Last night in the Champions League semi-final second leg Bayern Munich hammered Barcelona 3-0 at the Nou Camp, defeating the Catalan side 7-0 on aggregate.
The tie gave Barcelona a major reality check.
There has been a slight sea change in European football this season. Two German sides have made it to the final of the Champions League for the first time ever.
Both are worthy finalists and have been outstanding throughout the competition.
In fact, the Bundesliga sides were just too good for their La Liga opponents in Europe’s elite competition.
Barcelona and Real Madrid started the Champions League as the favourites for the competition, but fell short in the semi-finals.
Bayern Munich has been threatening to become a European superpower for the last few years. The Bavarians have now made it to three out of the last four Champions League finals. Bayern have lost on their two previous appearances in the final, but are heavy favourites for this year’s final.
Bayern are now starting to look like the best team in Europe and their performance against Barcelona just underlined the quality in their team.
The German champions do not seem to have any weaknesses and have proved to be the most complete team in Europe. They not only have a strong team, but a strong squad as well, unlike last night’s opponents.
It was always going to be a difficult task for Barcelona to comeback from the 4-0 first leg deficit and the task made even more difficult by the absence of Lionel Messi from their starting line-up. The Argentinian was not fit to start the game; instead, he started the clash on the substitute’s bench.
Messi’s absence must have given Bayern a huge psychological boost, even before the game started, if they needed one. As soon as I saw that Messi was not playing, I knew that Barcelona would not get back into this tie.
Without their star player, Barcelona looked lacklustre and just lacked creativity and energy. Messi is the player that makes Barcelona tick, even if Xavi and Andres Iniesta sometimes dictate the tempo of Barcelona’s play.
Messi takes Barcelona to the next level and without him; they lacked any sort of inspiration. The ties against proved that Barcelona without Messi, is a bit like fish without chips, it just is not the same.
The defeat to Bayern was coming for Barcelona. For too long the Spanish giants have neglected the defensive side of the game. Barca were too busy concentrating on attacking and putting together passes that they forgot what to do when teams actually attack them.
The team are not pressing as hard they used to and that pressing was vital to Barcelona’s success. Their defence was never really a big concern, as the team defended from the front. That is not happening as much.
Good teams will expose team’s weaknesses and Bayern Munich is a very good team. Barcelona has failed to strength in the centre of defence and the German giants exploited that failure over the two legs.
Football works in cycles. Spanish teams and Barcelona in particular have dominated European football in recent years. The Spanish national team have also dominated at international level winning the last World Cup and European Championship.
Germany looked like potential winners of Euro 2012, but could not quite get over the finishing line. However, it seems that World Cup 2014 could be Germany’s time to shine with players from Dortmund and Bayern especially being at the heart of that team.
Barcelona are not exactly in a terrible state, considering that they are about to clinch the La Liga title ahead of Real Madrid, so it is not all bad news.
Spain’s reign of dominance of European football, maybe over for this season, but Barcelona and Real Madrid will always be in contention for the big trophies. Both clubs will strengthen their teams in the summer and no doubt come back even stronger next season to challenge for the Champions League trophy.
Is Bayern Munich now the best team in European football?