| 06:30 |
Many believed the Champions League Semi-final between Barcelona and Bayern Munich would be close, many were proved wrong on Tuesday evening.
Barcelona were completely outplayed by their German opponents who put four goals past the soon to be Spanish champions mercilessly.
Barcelona centre half Gerard Pique acknowledged the woeful performance: “They gave us a thrashing, we will try to turn it around in the return leg and put in a good performance for the fans.
“They were better and faster than us. There is no point talking about the referee, there is no excuse.”
Thomas Muller opening and closing the scoring with the other goals sandwiched between Mario Gomez and Aryen Robben.
There was nothing Messi and friends could do as Robben and Mueller raced through the Barcelon defence.
Bayern even managed to up a gear in the second half, scoring three goals with aggressive football that left Barcelona looking lost and despondent.
After returning from injury, Messi appeared anything but fit, and there was no one to produce his firepower in front goal.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova gambled the lost on the clearly unfit Messi, but to suggest this was the prime factor behind the crushing loss is to do a grave disservice to Bayern.
On a pitch that showed signs of being heavily watered, Bayern gave Barca a taste of their own medicine with a high-intensity pressing game aided by the confidence of an outstanding season in which the Bundesliga was secured on 6 April, the earliest it has ever been won.
Bayern should have been ahead inside two minutes when Robben, perhaps selfishly, chose to shoot and saw his effort blocked by visiting goalkeeper Victor Valdes with both Gomez and Franck Ribery pleading for the pass in perfect positions.
The opening goal had been coming and it duly arrived after 25 minutes. Dante’s header from Robben’s cross was off target but the opportunist Muller arrived at the far post to score, despite Valdes making good contact.
Even though the Spanish side were struggling for rhythm, Barcelona’s quality meant danger was never far away. And so it proved as it took a crucial touch from Dante to take Dani Alves’ delivery away from the lurking Messi. But Bayern’s spirits rose further four minutes after half-time when they added a second.
Valdes was uncertain from Robben’s corner and, when Mueller headed back, the arch-poacher Gomez turned in as Barcelona appealed in vain for offside. Bayern’s work-rate and power had restricted Barcelona’s attack to few dangerous moments, but there was anxiety for the home crowd when Marc Bartra found space eight yards out only to poke his finish straight at home keeper Manuel Neuer.
The German champions were coming at Barcelona in waves and extended their advantage further as the lively Robben worked his way into the area to score from an angle, although there seemed to be a clear case for an infringement as Mueller blocked off Jordi Alba.
Barcelona’s agony was not over yet as Mueller applied another of those trademark close-range finishes from David Alaba’s cross to give Bayern an advantage of such command it is difficult to see how it can be retrieved.