Barcelona v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg

Game in a sentence

The humiliation continued as Bayern Munich hammer Barcelona 3-0 (7-0 agg) to reach the Champions League final for a second consecutive time.

Observations

  • Bayern Munich was superiour in all aspects of the game. Defensively focused, and exceptional in midfield and attack.
  • The shocking news before the match was the absence of Lionel Messi in the starting XI, due to an ongoing hamstring problem. Messi’s bench expression and nail biting only showed how antsy the player gets when he’s not on the field.
  • But let’s not forget the trio of David Villa, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro all represent the Spanish national team as well as the recent 2012 European champions.  In other words, the absence of Messi isn’t a justifiable excuse for the poor performance. And as Pique said after the match, his inclusion would have probably not made a difference.
  • Bayern had to do without Dante, who was reportedly sick (flu), and instead Daniel van Buyten filled his shoes in centre back. Van Buyten has shown over and over again that when called upon he’s a very reliable backup.
  • The German side has scored the most goals (26) in the Champions League this season. They increased that to 29 tonight.
  • Barcelona had to draw a fine balance from the beginning. They knew they had to play an extraordinary game. To have any shot at making a comeback, the team had to play offensively, while also maintaining a very sound defensive game, especially against an attacking side of Bayern’s calibre.
  • Arjen Robben got the first great chance for his team. He broke free after Bastian Schweinsteiger feed him the ball, but Gerard Pique’s tackle prevented the Dutchman from having a clear shot.
  • Die Roten were ferocious on the right channel. They had another excellent chance that started with Robben’s pass to Schweini, who backheeled it to Philipp Lahm. The full back was in the process of taking the shot when Pique cleared the ball away.  In the first half, most of Bayern’s chances were quite wasteful, but that changed in the last 45 minutes.
  • Pique was exceptional in defence today with several tackles and clearances. That was, of course, until the own goal in the 72nd minute. Adriano and Marc Bartra also struggled with controlling Robben, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller’s advances deep in their zone.
  • The game’s pace steadily picked up a quarter into the match with both sides creating several good opportunities. As in the first leg, the Spanish side had majority possession again.
  • Barcelona had a few good chances.  Fabregas chested a pass from Dani Alves that ended in front of Xavi, but the shot went beyond the bar.  Fabregas also had a decent attempt in the 30th minute when he tried to tap it in.
  • But that didn’t deter Bayern from their plan.  They were in control for the entire 180 minutes. The Bavarians were extremely organized. Compared to last season, Bayern’s composure has been incredible this year. They don’t succumb to pressure as easily and play with an advanced sense of relaxation.
  • Defensively the German side was just as solid, clearing balls with their heads and blocking shots with their bodies.  Even when their backs were pinned against the wall, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and the remaining back four always made sure to recover the ball and intercept the opponent’s crosses.
  • Six of Bayern’s footballers had to play cautiously to avoid missing the final including Schweini, Dante, Gomez, Martinez, Lahm and Gustavo, who were all one booking away.
  • While the pressing wasn’t as intense as in the first leg, Bayern continued to attack, making it even harder for Barca to organize. With another 45 minutes to go, Barca really needed a miracle. It’s not often that one feels sympathetic towards the Spanish side, but the sooner the game ended the better.
  • The mood at the Camp Nou went sour once Robben scored. In the 49th minute, Alaba’s long pass ended with Robben, who cut inside Barca’s penalty box. Victor Valdes stood no chance against the Dutchman’s classic driller.  Barca now needed six goals to overcome the deficit.
  • There was a very large contingent of Bayern fans at the match and were easily heard drowning out the home crowd.
  • A rarity, but Tito Vilanova decided to take Xavi and Andres Iniesta out in the second half and replaced them with Alexis Sanchez and Thiago Alcantara.
  • But the outcome only got worse. Thomas Mueller made it 3-0 in the 76th minute.  This was a very humiliating night for the Catalans.  With the quality available at Barcelona, the lack of goals became increasingly embarrassing.  This was Barcelona’s worst aggregate CL defeat in a semi-final.
  • As for Bayern, they were truly unstoppable and the superiour side in both legs.
  • Bayern’s win, alongside Borussia Dortmund, is historic. For the first time in the competition will two German teams fight for the trophy in the final.
  • Robben, however, knows there’s one more major hurdle to overcome: “The final is going to be a big one. Dortmund have proved over last two to three years they are a very good team. It will be decided on very small details.”
  • We won’t know those details until May 25, 2012 in Wembley.

Three Stars

Robben
Schweini
Alaba