More than a month after it happened, Bayern Munich’s 8-2 win over Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals is still difficult to comprehend.
As good as eventual winner Bayern was last season, how was the German titan to put that sort of historic hurt on Lionel Messi and his cast of all-world teammates? We didn’t know then just how unhappy Messi was with the direction of the club that he’s led to four of its six European titles, or just how dysfunctional the Barcelona boardroom had become.
Yet at least one Bayern player predicted a rout that night in Lisbon, according to teammate and star striker Robert Lewandowski.
“I spoke with one player, and he said to me that we’ll win 5-1,” Lewandowski told a group of international reporters Tuesday via conference call from Munich, where the club will open the season Friday aiming to win an unprecedented ninth consecutive Bundesliga crown.
That scoreline would’ve been shocking enough. Instead, Bayern pummeled Barca to a previously unimaginable degree, scoring four goal on either side of halftime.
The fallout from the humiliating defeat continues even though Messi reluctantly decided to honor the final year of his contract rather than force his way out. But to hear Lewandowski tell it, Bayern was simply the better team.
“During the game, we knew we were the strongest team,” Lewandowski said. “We were playing better. It doesn’t matter how many goals we already have, we wanted more. For sure that was an amazing game, an amazing evening.”
Afterward, Lewandowski asked several more teammates if he thought they would go on to win the entire tournament. “Five, six players, when I was talking with them, they say yes without [spending] two seconds thinking about it,” he said.
Bayern went on to trounce French upstart Lyon 3-0 in the semis, with the Polish front man sealing the win with his late strike. Then Bayern eked past Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain in the final to secure the club’s seventh Champions League/European Cup triumph.
Lewandowski touched on a number of other topics during the nearly 45-minute call. Several of the questions were about the Ballon d’Or award, which he was one of the favorites to win this season before news broke that because of the coronavirus pandemic, the prize, given annually to the world’s top player, would not be handed out this year.
With most of the top leagues able to complete their 2019-20 slates this summer, there have since been calls to reverse course. Lewandowski would love to see it. “I hope that something changes in a few months,” he said. “To win the Ballon d’Or for every player is a dream.”
One dream Lewandowski doesn’t have is to play in MLS before he retires. While the top league in the United States and Canada has focused on signing and selling younger players in recent years — Bayern fullback Alphonso Davies arrived in 2018 from the Vancouver Whitecaps — older stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney starred in MLS as recently as last season.
“I’m now 32 [years] old so I don’t think so,” Lewandowski, a noted fan of Southern California, said of potentially playing stateside one day. “I want to play five or six years longer. I don’t know. For sure that is some option maybe for the future.
“I saw a few games in MLS because now we have a few players from Poland in MLS. It’s a very interesting league, but right now I don’t think about this.”
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