Bayern Munich 4 – 0 Barcalona
Bayern Munich took a huge step towards the final with a dominant display in Germany. Two goals from Thomas Muller, and further goals from Gomez and Robben gave them a huge advantage that their dominant display deserved. Two of their goals were definitely questionable, but Barca didn’t deserve to take anything away from this match, as they mustered only one decent chance in the entire match.
On a heavily watered pitch, that saw players struggle all day to keep their footing, Barcelona started with their own inimitable passing. But the first chance they got, Bayern pounced and Robben had a good chance after good work down the right flank. His shot though, was straight at keeper Valdes.
It was clear though that Bayern had a plan to combat Barca’s inevitable possession. They sat back when Barca had the ball in their own half, but as soon as the Spaniards stepped into the Bayern half, they pressed very hard to win it back. Perhaps this strategy came from the advice of soon to be Bayern, and former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, but it seemed to be working. It took 22 minutes for the first questionable theatrics of the night. This was something prevalent whenever either of these teams play. Inevitably it was from Busquets, going down in his own box holding his head, after receiving no contact from any other player.
After a fairly drab opening quarter, Bayern created the first real chance, and subsequently the first goal of the leg. A rather poor cross from Franck Ribery wasn’t dealt with, and the ball fell to Robben who produced a much better cross. Defender Danté towered above the diminutive Dani Alves, headed the ball across the box, where no one picked up Muller, who powered a header through the scrambling Valdes for 1 – 0. Valdes seemed disappointed with his effort, but in truth the Barca defence was ball watching, and should have done better.
Barca tried to make amends for this and created their first decent chance, a cross from Pedro aimed for Messi across goal, was turned behind by Dante. At first it looked like some superb defending, on closer inspection, you see Danté completely miskicks the ball. This was fortunate, as if he’d got clean contact, he would have clearly scored an own goal.
This prompted Bayern to retaliate, looking for another goal, put Barca under some sustained pressure. During this time they had a big shout for a penalty, after Sanchez appeared to handball following Danté’s flick on from a corner. Despite seeing penalties for less, it would’ve been very harsh, as Sanchez had no time to move after the flick on.
The rest of the half passed on without incident, and although this was a hugely competitive match, the entertainment value was lacking thus far.
Early on in the second half, Bayern struck again, and again it was a set piece with sloppy Barca defending. A corner swung in to the back post to Muller, half committed Valdes to attempt the catch. He couldn’t get there however, and the ball was put across the box for Gomez to tap in, after the Barca defenders was caught ball watching again. Replays suggested that Gomez was offside, but with Arjen Robben slightly obscuring his view, the linesman allowed the goal to stand. Barca now faced a tough ask to salvage something in this tie.
Bayern started to dominate again, and created several very good chance in quick succession. First Muller slightly dragged his shot from outside the box wide. Then after some more good work from Robben, Franck Ribery probably should have done better with his shot from an angle, but hooked it wide of the far post. Arjen Robben himself had a headed chance from a free kick, but didn’t get a good enough connection and it went wide.
After about 15 minutes of constant possession, Barca finally created some openings, unfortunately the ball fell to rookie defender Bartra in the 18 yard box, and his scuffed shot was straight at Neuer. A cross then found its way across the Bayern box, but eluded every one and was picked up by Ribery. The Frenchman ran halfway across the pitch before the ball ended up with Robben on the edge of the box. He kicked the ball past Alba, and went to run past him. Thomas Muller then stepped in, completely blocking off the Spaniard, allowing Robben to slot home from an angle to make it 3 – 0. Barca clearly felt that Alba was fouled, and they had a very good case for it.
Trying to make amends, the away side fashioned their best chance of the night, after a good free kick caught Bayern trying to play offside. Bartra found himself with the ball, unmarked, in the 6 yard box. Unfortunately he lost his bearings somewhat, and completely skied his effort high and wide. Of all the players for that chance to fall to, he’d have been last on the list. It was soon immediately punished, as a sloppy back pass from Alba, allowed Muller to run in on goal, but he never really got it under control and Valdes made the save.
They were punished soon after though, brilliant counter attacking by Bayern, with Ribery putting Alaba through on the left, to fizz a ball across the box. Thomas Muller made no mistake to make it 4 – 0 to the newly crowned German champions. Barcelona looked shell shocked, they hadn’t been outplayed this conclusively for a very long time. Barca, would also then lost Alba for the return game in Spain after he petulantly threw the ball in Robben’s face following a throw in.
The final whistle then sounded to finish a remarkable contest. Bayern countered Barca’s passing style perfectly, and although the Spanish side boasted 65% possession, they created very few chances. This could have been partly due to a clearly unfit Messi, who was largely anonymous throughout the game. It would be silly, even after this game, to completely write them off. But it’s hard to see a way back, Bayern just did everything right, and could have won by even more goals. Barca could rightly be aggrieved by two of Bayern’s goals, but cannot argue with the result.
Man of the Match – Arjen Robben:- Not exactly a fan favourite after his time in England. But didn’t put a foot wrong, attacked like Ronaldo, defended like Roy Keane, a complete performance.