Bayern Munich trash Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
- Initially it was hard to see Bayern Munich playing without Mario Mandzukic, who missed the game due to a suspension, but the win today only reaffirmed the depth of this team on both the domestic and the European level.
- Before the game, Jordi Roura said, “This will be a very tight tie. It will be won because of minor details. It will be a very fast game and very intense. The team that imposes themselves on the game with have the advantage.”
- Aside from the tight tie, Roura was correct in his analysis. But instead of his team, it was Bayern that dictated the game. The German side ripped Barcelona’s defence apart and hit the net four times.
- Lionel Messi was fit enough to play, yet he wasn’t 100% and it was obvious his injury continued to hamper his performance. Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol were still out due to injuries.
- With two very excellent midfields, both teams were constantly pressing high up the pitch. While both were cautious, it was Bayern that slowly began to control the game.
- Around the 12th minute mark, the Spanish side had a long spell of possession that nearly lasted two minutes. Yet possession meant nothing in this game.
- Moreover, it was rare to see Bayern on the losing side of controlling the ball, but they proved today that they can also win games without leading in that category.
- The first goal was the result of a double header. Thomas Mueller, who is possibly one of the grittiest players in football, headed the ball low into the net after receiving it from Dante’s header. Credit should also be given to Arjen Robben, who managed to keep the ball inside the penalty box.
- From the beginning, Barca were quite vulnerable at the back four and Bayern managed to further exploit that weakness as the game went on. The Spanish side had as much trouble off the ball as they had with the ball. When the Catalans gained possession, it was tough for them to create any sort of momentum with Bayern constantly pushing forward.
- Creating and building were two words missing in Barcelona’s game today. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets weren’t connecting with Messi and the rest of the forward line. It wasn’t just Messi, but Pedro Rodrigue and Alexis Sanchez also weren’t exerting themselves.
- Bayern on the other hand were a very cohesive and organized unit. They never strayed from their plan and formation. Their performance was exceptional. Even under rare moments of Barca pressure, the team remained calm and proactive. The Bavarians managed to not only create several attempts, but also net a hefty chunk of them.
- The midfield was probably the busiest area of the pitch as both teams were trying to push each other back. But Barca seemed to struggle more than the German side and failed to build or set up from behind. When they did, there was always a red wall ready to intercept, block and counter.
- The German side approached the game with a superior plan. They made it difficult for Barca to find any quality openings on the pitch.
- A few minutes after the first goal, Messi was preying right in front of Bayern’s net, but a very clever slide by Dante kept the ball away from danger. The hero, who single-handedly helped win the game against Paris Saint-Germain, was nowhere to be found. For most of the match, he also appeared to play a lot deeper than usual.
- But Barcelona’s loss wasn’t just Messi’s lack of scoring, Rodriguez and Sanchez also didn’t threaten. Even Iniesta and Xavi’s passing choked whenever they entered Bayern territory.
- For the Germans, this was a deserved victory. It was hard to single out a few players for their remarkable performances. This was a truly beautiful team effort. Philipp Lahm and Robben were very dangerous on the right side. Franck Ribery’s speed was deadly and David Alaba provided an assist on the last goal. Javi Martinez was equally productive. He created a few excellent diagonal passes to his teammates upfront and won most of his duels.
- Robben was also playing a more involved defensive game. He contributed a goal and helped set up the second goal for Mario Gomez from a corner. Gomez ended up volleying the ball in from Mueller’s header in the 49th minute. It was a controversial goal and appeared to be slightly offside, but it was hard to see from the referee’s angle.
- Bayern were on a roll. They cruised to score two more goals. In the 73rd minute, the Dutchman finally scored after plenty of miserable and failed attempts in the Champions League this season, and of course, in last year’s final against Chelsea.
- Bayern were excellent on set pieces. They had the physical advantage and looked the more dangerous side throughout the match. Ribery and Robben combined for speed and deep runs into the opponent’s side. At one point, the Frenchman could have increased the lead from a beautiful Robben pass, but his strike just missed the net.
- Marc Bartra, who was paired with a shaved-head Gerard Pique, had two decent chances, one in the 69th and another one moments later. The first involved a weak effort and in the second one he tried to turn around, but in the process lost his grip and the resulting attempt was poor.
- Bayern scored a fourth goal in the 82nd minute. Mueller scored his second from Alaba’s slide on the left side. The striker was very influential and hard to mark for the opponent’s defenders.
- At the end, the German side played with consistency and determination.
- Barcelona were sore losers and emotions took the better of Jordi Alba, who threw the ball directly in Robben’s face near the end of the match. It was a very dirty play and he’ll now miss the next match.
- There were many fouls and handballs that went unnoticed by the referee. The centre circle of the pitch was also in a strange condition at the Allianz Arena. It was quite waterlogged compared to the rest of the field.
- This was the first time since 2010 that the Spanish side has conceded three goals in the Champions League. Barcelona now find themselves in a taxing position. They’re up against one of the best opponents in the competition with a four-goal deficit to overcome.