Barcelona have been dumped out of the Champions League group stages for the second straight season after Inter Milan thrashed Viktoria Plzen 4-0.
Xavi’s men were eliminated from the competition without even kicking a ball after the Serie A side’s win sealed their fate, with their later kick-off against Bayern Munich now a dead-rubber affair for the Spanish giants.
Barca were relying on something of a miracle to get through to the knockout stages – needing Inter to drop points against a side who had lost all of their games so far in Group C – while also needing to beat Bayern Munich.
But their hopes were swiftly dashed as Inter raced into a 2-0 lead at half time – before adding gloss to the scoreline with a thumping win at the San Siro.
A double from Edin Dzeko, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first-half header and a late Romelu Lukaku strike sealed the home side’s progression into the knockout rounds as Xavi’s Barcelona team watched on from afar.
For Barca, the elimination will come as a huge disappointment and one that will put huge pressure on Xavi’s position – with his side also trailing leaders Real Madrid in the LaLiga table.
The Spanish coach will have to focus his efforts on winning the lesser Europa League, which will be a bitter pill to swallow for the club’s board having splashed out £150m on a series of star names, including Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.
Barca were third prior to their home clash against Bayern with four points – after one win, one draw and two losses.
Their 3-3 draw against Inter last time out all but sealed their fate – with Inter knowing they had a straight forward task to reach the last 16.
It is the first time since 1999 that the Catalan club failed to advance to the knockout stage in consecutive years, coinciding with the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain two seasons ago.
Last year, Barcelona endured its worst Champions League campaign in about two decades, finishing behind Bayern and Benfica in its group while going through a dire financial situation in the aftermath of Messi’s departure.