Snow in Italy led to Atalanta’s game against Villarreal being postponed until Thursday
Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage for the first time in over 20 years with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich on Wednesday, as Benfica, French champions Lille and Red Bull Salzburg all qualified for the last 16.
Meanwhile, Chelsea missed out on first place in their group to Juventus after conceding a late equaliser away to Zenit Saint Petersburg, while snow in northern Italy forced the postponement of Atalanta’s decisive game against Villarreal.
Xavi Hernandez’s side were duly outclassed by an already-qualified Bayern who made it six wins out of six in the group, with Thomas Mueller’s 34th-minute header just crossing the line before Ronald Araujo could clear.
– ‘A new era’ –
“We didn’t compete. This is the Champions League but it is our reality and we have to face up to it,” Xavi told Spanish media.
Barcelona, who scored just twice in the group stage, had appeared in the knockout rounds of the Champions League in each of the last 17 seasons, last missing out in 2003-04 when they played in the UEFA Cup after coming sixth in La Liga the previous year.
The five-time European champions will now drop into the Europa League knockout-round play-offs in February.
In contrast Lille are through to the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in 15 years after beating Wolfsburg 3-1 in Germany to top Group G.
Salzburg, Austrian champions in each of the last eight seasons, also progressed thanks to a 1-0 win over Sevilla, with Noah Okafor scoring the only goal before the Spaniards had Joan Jordan sent off.
– Atalanta game postponed –
But then Magomed Ozdoev’s stunning strike earned Zenit a 3-3 draw, allowing Juventus to snatch first place as Moise Kean’s goal gave them a 1-0 win against Malmo.
Romelu Lukaku’s first goal in nearly three months made it 2-2, and Werner’s second of the night looked to have won it for Chelsea before Ozdoev struck.
Atalanta’s game against Villarreal in Group F was postponed due to snow in Bergamo and was rescheduled for Thursday at 1800 GMT, with the Italians having to win to pip their visitors to second place in the group.
Originally published as Barcelona crash out of Champions League as Benfica, Lille and Salzburg reach last 16