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Bayern Munich vs Barcelona vs The Eagles

FC Barcelona vs Bayern Munich was a marquee match-up of the Champions League group stage, and proved to be a marvelously entertaining event. But what many might not realize is that the game was also an eerily perfect note-for-note reinterpretation of the Eagles’ 1975 #1 hit song “One of These Nights.” From top to bottom, the performance was a perfectly re-constructed version of the Eagles’ chart-topper—an almost anti-love letter shared between the German powerhouse and the still-struggling Spanish team.

Immediately the similarities appear as the Eagles build tension with a seductively slippery bass-line accompanied by ominous multi-tracked lead guitars—eerily perfect for such a highly anticipated match. The Eagles’ unique country-disco sound creates a business-meets-pleasure style strangely similar to the personalities of the two clubs, setting the stage for what was to come.

As Don Henley’s vocals begin, he seems to ask the question on the minds of every viewer: after several drubbings over the last few years at the hands of Bayern, will tonight be the night Barcelona can finally emerge victorious and re-join Europe’s elite? Has Barça recovered from a disastrous 8-2 loss to Bayern in 2020—the night that essentially spelled the end of the Leo Messi era in Spain and triggered a massive Barcelona rebuilding effort?

One of these nights

One of these crazy old nights

We're gonna find out

Pretty mama

What turns on your lights

Immediately Bayern come out punching. “One of these nights,” they sing to their opponents, “one of these crazy old nights,” we’ll see if you’re up to the task of taking us on without embarrassing yourselves. Based on recent history, in which the last four games have seen Bayern outscore Barcelona 16-2, it’s not an easy assignment. At the end of the night, will Bayern find out “what turns on” Barcelona’s lights? Is there anyone home?

The full moon is calling

The fever is high

And the wicked wind whispers

And moans

This night seems to spell doom for Barcelona, with even the natural world against any hopes of a Catalan resurgence. A clear, warm night might seem to favor the Spaniards, but away from home Barcelona are in unfamiliar territory—there’s something foreboding floating on the Bavarian wind. Even as Barcelona mount a barrage of attacks on the Bayern goal in the first 25 minutes, they’re not able to break through with a goal.

You got your demons

And you got desires

Well, I got a few of my own

Barcelona's demons are obvious, Bayern’s desires include European domination—how did Henley know the ins and outs of this matchup 47 years in advance? It can’t be mere coincidence.

Oh, someone to be kind to

In-between the dark and the light

Oh, coming right behind you

Swear I'm gonna find you

One of these nights

Falsetto harmonies–is there anything better? Imagine this section as Barcelona grabbing the mic and answering back. This is the first appearance of the idea of duality that runs through both the Eagles’ hit song and through the course of the game: light meets dark, good meets bad, the victorious meet the defeated—positive and negative forces: sometimes intertwining, sometimes in stark contrast. This duality is nowhere more obvious on the field than in Barcelona’s teenage midfielders, Pedri and Gavi. Pedri has emerged as one of the shining young stars of Europe: incredibly creative and positive in his play. While similarly talented, Gavi is equally adept at getting himself into trouble: just as likely to play an assist to a goal scorer as to pick up two yellow cards for overly-aggressive tackling.

I've been searching for the daughter

Of the devil himself

I've been searching for an angel in white

I've been waiting for a woman who's a little of both

And I can feel her but she's nowhere in sight

Barcelona hope that their midfield duo can propel them to greater heights, but where were the yin and yang combo on this important night? Nowhere in sight. Both played well but without an impact on the scoreline.

Oh, loneliness will blind you

In between the wrong and the right

Oh, coming right behind you

Swear I'm gonna find you

One of these nights

Barcelona continue to lament their sad circumstances. Caught in between the success of the early aughts, in which they won three Champions League trophies in less than 10 years, and the drought of today—going nearly another 10 years without a title and failing miserably in their last several European campaigns. Hopefully they declare their intentions: “Coming right behind you” likely lacks the adult-themed double entendre of the Eagles’ version but reflects a team looking for their first big finish in many years.

Then, just after the halfway point, somehow as surprising as they are expected, come the Bayern goals at the exact moment of Don Felder’s guitar solo. A piercing bent high note stings the chilly Munich air, as Lucas Hernandez heads in a goal from a corner kick, and Felder’s solo adds a lyrical line that tumbles down the guitar’s neck like Barcelona’s hopes for a victory. Of course the goal comes from a set piece–it’s as inevitable as Felder’s solo appearing after two rounds of verse and chorus. And improbably Bayern score again just minutes later as Leroy Sané and Jamal Musiala dance through the Barcelona defense to score. Felder’s second 8-bar section mirrors Sané’s goal—skipping through the E-minor pentatonic scale like Sane and Musiala slalomed through Barcelona’s freshly assembled and unsettled-as-wet-paint defense.

From then on, the game is over. All that’s left is a repeating chorus with the occasional flourish: Ryan Gravenberch and Mathys Tel substitute on for Musiala and Sane, just as Felder’s double-tracked guitar phrase adds additional delight as the song begins its denouement at the 3:04 mark. Bayern now use Barcelona’s own lyrics against them, taunting them as they pull away.

One of these nights

One of these crazy, crazy, crazy nights

One of these ni, igh, igh, igh, i-ghts

As the song fades out and Bayern howl through Randy Meisner’s impossibly high harmonies, it’s clear who the winner will be tonight and likely for a long time to come. Barcelona are still a new team, still integrating loads of new players into the system, still finding the right amounts of light and dark to illuminate their path forward. Bayern on the other hand are expert hunters, skilled at taking down weak members of the group stage as they march their way onto yet another victorious night as the true eagles of the competition. On this rare night of perfectly synchronized ‘70s pop culture and European soccer, we are confronted with the realization that there are no new ideas—everything beautiful has been created before in myriad manifestations. Coincidence? Only you can be the judge.


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