For the last six seasons, the key to becoming the UEFA Champions League winners is getting through Barcelona. If not, and the title goes to them, as it has for three times in the span of six seasons, beginning in 2006.
The fact that Barcelona have made the Champions League semifinals in each of the last six seasons does show the level of consistency and quality this team has showcased for quite an impressive length of time, despite the turnover in their squad and the managerial position.
The current streak of going through or giving up when it comes to Barcelona began in the 2007-2008 season, and more accurately on April 23, 2008. Barcelona were drawn with Manchester United in the semifinals, playing the first leg at the Camp Nou. A 0-0 draw meant that United had the edge for the second leg, and a fantastic Paul Scholes at Old Trafford gave United the 1-0 aggregate win. They won in the final against Chelsea.
A year later, and everything came through for Barcelona. This time, they met Manchester United in the final, beating the defending champions 2-0 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.
In 2010, Barcelona met with Jose Mourinho and Inter in the semifinals, with the first leg played at the San Siro on April 20. Barcelona couldn’t fly to Italy due to eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, and lost 3-1 in the first leg, losing not just the match but their aura of invincibility. They won 1-0 in the second leg, but it wasn’t enough. Inter went on to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.
A year later, and everything was back to “normal” for Barcelona, reaching the final, once again playing Manchester United. Barcelona took the lead through Pedro, but Wayne Rooney equalized 7 minutes later. Yet it was far from enough. A brilliant display of football from Barcelona in the second half, with goals from Lionel Messi and David Villa, led to an impressive 3-1 win.
In 2012, another English team, Chelsea, stood in the way of Barcelona in the semifinal. Chelsea beat Barcelona 1-0 in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, and managed to hang on in the second leg (with Lionel Messi missing a penalty kick) to finish in a 2-2 draw and claim an aggregate win of 3-2. They beat Bayern Munich in the final after a penalty shootout.
In 2013, and the fresh European champions, Bayern Munich, also faced Barcelona in the semifinal. It ended in a humiliating, bruising and destructive 7-0 aggregate score, including a 3-0 win at the Camp Nou for the Germans.
It’s also worth mentioning that in 2007, a year after winning the Champions League for the first time in 14 years, Barcelona lost to Liverpool in the knockout stage. The reds progressed to the final that year, losing to AC Milan.