On Tuesday night Bayern Munich destroyed, arguably, one of the greatest domestic sides football has ever seen, Barcelona. The Catalan club were hammered 4-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Allianz Arena and look certain to be heading out of the competition.
It was a master class from the German champions. Pressing high up the pitch, starving Messi of space and counter attacking with fierce pace. It was the perfect example of German efficiency. Robben and Ribéry caused havoc on the wings, Thomas Müller was a constant pest bagging a brace of goals and Schweinsteiger dominated the midfield preventing Messi from stamping his mark on the game.
In contrast Barcelona looked more like Blackburn Rovers as they regularly squandering possession, something we would not usually associate with the tika taka kings of football. Puyol’s absence was a huge blow for the La Liga leaders, leaving them vulnerable and lightweight at the back. Going forward they lacked, amazingly, the creativity and vision to pries open a stout Bayern defence. Even Lionel Messi, albeit half fit, found it difficult breaking down the Bayern back four.
Bayern began the game with great intensity and soon found themselves a goal up within 25 minutes. Robben’s cross was headed towards goal by Dante and Thomas Muller headed home at the back post, unmarked, to give Bayern a much deserved lead. The home side’s dominance in the air would prove vital just four minutes after the interval. Thomas Muller turned provider, nodding Robben’s corner across the face of the goal and Gomez, who was offside, applied the final touch to double the German’s lead. Robben then added a third after a superb solo run down the right, cutting in on his vicious left foot the Dutchman expertly slotted the ball past a helpless Valdés. Barcelona were left furious after the referee failed to spot Thomas Muller’s blatant block on Jordi Alba as Robben exploded into the penalty area.
With Barcelona tempers fraying Bayern added a fourth. Thomas Muller netted his second of the game converting Luiz Gustavo’s cross.
Barcelona are not familiar with losing and they are certainly not familiar with losing in this manner. They were crushed, battered, hammered, demolished, whatever you want to call it, it was quite simply a rout. And it beckons the question, is this the end of an era? Many people expected Bayern to sneak a win, but to win so convincingly was a huge surprise, Barcelona have well and truly been found out and will need something close to a miracle to turn this tie around.
With Germany leading Spain by four goals to nil Borussia Dortmund welcomed Real Madrid to the hostile Signal Iduna Park for the second semifinal and in similar fashion the German’s romped home crushing their Spanish opponents. Spurred on by a wall of yellow fans the home side were fitter, quicker and harder in the tackle. Lewandowski was clinical, Reus a nuisance and Jakub Blaszczykowski patrolled the right flank like a man possessed keeping Ronaldo out of the game.
Lewandowski looks set to be leaving Dortmund come the end of the season but last night’s performance will live long in the memory of the BVB supporters. The Poland striker bagged all four Dortmund goals in a fine display. But the unsung hero of the game has to be Gundogan, the midfielder calmly went about his work dictating the play from the heart of midfield.
Dortmund were quick out the blocks and found a breakthrough within ten minutes. Götze provided a delightful ball into the box and Lewandowski outmuscled Pepe before prodding the ball into the net.
Dortmund could have had a penalty after Reus fell in the box but on the stroke of half time Hummels gifted Madrid an undeserved equaliser. His sloppy back pass to the keeper was intercepted by Higuaín and the striker, unselfishly, squared the ball to Ronaldo who calmly netted from six yards out.
It was cruel on Dortmund, but they responded magnificently after the interval. The big Pole neatly controlled the ball on the edge of the six yard area, swiveled and poked the ball into the corner of the net. Sergio Ramos was certain the goal was offside, it was not and Dortmund deserved their lead.
Five minutes later Dortmund and Lewandowski had a third. Again the Pole turned beautifully in the penalty area, shaking off the challenge of Pepe before dispatching a thunderous strike into the roof of the net to secure a sublime hat-trick. The Signal Iduna Park erupted, and moments later the rout was complete. Reus broke into the box and was bundled over by Alonso, the referee did not hesitate this time and pointed directly to the spot. Step up the Pole, Lewandowski converted with great conviction smashing the ball down the centre of the goal to round off a fantastic night for Dortmund and a sensational 48 hours for German football.
Barcelona and Madrid were both blown away by their superior German opponents and it will take something special for either of the two Spanish sides to make the final next month. Despite scoring an important away goal Madrid’s task looks just as impossible as Barcelona’s. But there is a reason why so many people love the beautiful game of football, you never know what can happen, and who knows what may happen next week. The optimist will be dreaming of an all Spanish final while the realist will be readying themselves for a German invasion of the capital, whatever the outcome Wembley will be ready for two massive football clubs.