Bayern Munich are one step closer to a third Champions League final in four years after defying the record books to defeat Barcelona, comprehensively in the first leg of the semifinal at the Allianz Arena.
A brace from Thomas Muller and one goal each from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben ensured the Bavarians will travel to Camp Nou with a comfortable lead. The victory however took the shine out of a Barcelona side many had considered indomitable over the years and leaves the Catalans with little motivation going into the game in Camp Nou a fortnight from now.
Barcelona started the match with prospects as they eased into their possession game from the blast of the whistle, but Bayern were undaunted even when the visitors started their usual link- up play.
The home team didn’t just play Barca at their own game; they were a perfect match man- to- man.
The first chance had Robben exchange passes with Martinez before shooting straight at Victor Valdes in the second minute. Bayern was quicker to close down their opponents. They were also swifter in spreading the play and had a clear hunger to make amends for last May’s defeat to Chelsea.
Two penalty appeals were overlooked by referee Viktor Kassai. The home team proved they were equal to the task with the first goal in the 25th minute.
Arjen Robben’s cross from the right picked out Dante at the far post, and he returned the ball to the opposite post where Muller was encroaching to head in the opener with Victor Valdes unable to stop the ball before it crept in.
Dante averted a minor scare five minutes later when he got in a vital touch just in front of Messi from Pedro’s cross, but it turned out to be a mare interlude as against the music from Bayern.
The strength of the Bavarians became evident in the 49th minute when Robben’s corner was headed down at the far post by Muller with an unmarked Gomez sweeping the ball in from underneath the crossbar.
Then Robben set up Ribery, who dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 55th minute denying Bayern the chance to extend the lead.
They delivered once more in the 72nd minute; Robben’s individual performance had him slide the ball inside the far post after getting in around the back of Jordi Alba, who appeared to be impeded by Muller in the build- up.
Marc Batra wasted a rare opportunity for the Blaugranas in the 76th minute before Muller added the fourth goal in the 82nd minute, tucking the ball in from close range after David Alaba got round the back of Barca’s crumbling defence.