Bayern Munich destroyed Spanish giants Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of their semi-final Champions League clash last night.
The fact that Bayern defeated the Catalans was not a major surprise, but the ease in which they did was.
Bayern Munich’s performance was full of power. They simply overpowered Barcelona all over the over field and Barca did not have an answer to it. This was one of the keys to victory for the German champions.
It does not take a genius to work out where Barcelona’s weaknesses are. They lack physical presence in the team in general and in last night’s clash Bayern took full advantage.
Barcelona’s opponents usually have a height advantage, but Bayern were giants compared to their Spanish opponents. In fact, Bayern are quite an impressive physical presence.
Barcelona’s lack of height does not usually matter, as the Catalans do not usually allow the opposition to have the ball enough to make it matter. However, uncharacteristically Barcelona was careless with the ball against Bayern.
Last night’s performance was very un-Barcelona like. The whole of the team were unable to keep hold of the ball, even the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Their inability to keep the ball against Bayern did not help Barca’s cause. The opposition cannot score if they do not have the ball. Credit to Bayern though because they did not give Barcelona any time on the ball, a tactic usually employed by Barcelona ironically enough.
Bayern Munich made Barcelona’s defence look very vulnerable. Young centre-back Marc Bartra looked like the rookie he is and the Bayern attack repeatedly exposed the Barca backline. Gerard Pique is a decent defender, but he cannot single-handedly hold together a defence.
The full-back’s Daniel Alves and Jordi Alba spent a lot of their time going forward as usual and it costs the Catalan side against the better teams. Previously Carlos Puyol was there alongside Pique to keep the opponents at bay.
The veteran centre-back is coming to the end of his career and has struggled with injuries in the past few seasons. Puyol’s absence is not noticeable against weaker sides, but when Barca face better sides the Barcelona defence looks very poor.
It was obvious that Lionel Messi was not match-fit in last night’s clash. The Argentinian superstar hardly touched the ball and was not his usual explosive self. Messi provides much of Barca’s attacking impetus and without him fully-fit Barca struggle to win games.
Messi had not played since the quarter-final second leg against PSG and he was not fit in that game either. Messi managed to have an influence in his short cameo in that game. However, he could not repeat the trick against a strong Bayern team.
Barcelona is a legendary team and for Bayern to take them apart so easily really was quite impressive. I have not seen a team play with such confidence and beat Barcelona in such a way.
Teams that have beaten Barca in recent years have mostly parked the bus against Barcelona. The current Bayern team were so confident that they just played their normal game and went for it against the Catalan giants.
They showed themselves to be a better team than their Spanish opponents and few teams have shown that against Barcelona in recent years.
The victory for Bayern shows that they now can really compete with the best teams in Europe. The German side have been the nearly-men of European football in recent years, beaten Champions League finalists in 2010 and 2012.
However, this team looks like the best Bayern team in recent years. They seem to have everything they need to be European champions. In fact, they look like the most complete team in European football.
A comeback from Barcelona really is unlikely, but they defeated AC Milan 4-0 at the Nou Camp earlier in the campaign. However, they need to win the second leg by that score just to take the tie to extra-time.
Without a fully-fit Lionel Messi that is not likely to happen and it looks like Bayern are set to make yet another Champions League final appearance.
Tonight will see round two of the Germany vs. Spain Champions League battle, as Borussia Dortmund host Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi-final tie at the Signal Iduna Park. The Spanish side head into the tie very much as favourites.
However, their German opponents are the only team out of the four semi-finalists not to have been defeated in the competition so far. Dortmund even took four points off Real in the Champions League group stages.
This will should be a tight contest and even though Real are favourites for the tie I certainly won’t be backing against an all-German Champions League final next month.
Are Bayern Munich now favourites for the Champions League trophy?