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Bayern (4-0) Barcelona | Recap

FC Bayern break records yet again, all but destroy FC Barcelona's Wembley hopes

Alex Grimm

There are no trees with limbs large enough for someone in the football punditry to have gone out on and predict Barcelona losing 4-0 in a Champions League semifinal against any team in this galaxy or the next.

That happened, today, and clearly, Bayern are not of this planet nor of this galaxy.

They are also not your typical example of the ruthless German "efficiency" found in decades past; they are almost above the concept.

A frantic first five minutes was followed by a very measured and artfully executed forty minutes from Bayern, who went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead while surrendering 63% of possession to their opponents.

The first chance for either team came from Arjen Robben, who shot it directly at Barcelona's Valdes. That was the best attempt at goal for either team until an uncalled Pique handball denied Bayern a penalty chance. There would be two or three more uncalled Barcelona handballs in the half.

In the twenty-fifth minute, a Robben cross into the area found Dante's head. Robben received his pass from Thomas Müller, which caused the Barcelona players who were supposed to be marking him float either out to the perimeter of the penalty box to defend Robben or in towards goal to defend the cross. Alone, Müller raced towards Dante's header and smashed it into the ground. Victor Valdes had trouble handling it and it squirted through for the first goal of the match.

Barcelona had much of the ball, but couldn't seem to keep their attacks going once nearing the penalty area. It was almost as if Bayern's strategy was to let them play the possession game they are so famous for, but not give an inch in the box. No Barcelona player effectively worked the flanks, either.

Messi, who appeared to perhaps not be at full fitness, was swarmed by two or three Reds each touch, of which he had few to begin with. It's odd to say that the best footballer many of us have ever seen was a total non-factor, but that's the most appropriate term I can think of to describe his night.

Straight from coming out of the tunnels for the second half, Bayern were pushing for a second, a scoreline that served them very well in the last round against Juventus.

In the 49th minute, a sprinting Javi Martinez received the ball in towards goal but was chased by Barcelona players on each side. After a bit of tugging and pulling, the ball went out for a Bayern corner. A replay would show that handball could have been called twice on the play alone, but Bayern's protests for a penalty were in vain for a third time and they would have to settle for a corner.

Robben's delivery was headed down by Müller towards Mario Gomez at the other post. The German striker wasted little time in doubling Bayern's lead, 2-0.

A lull in the dominant Bayern performance which resulted in a few decent chances for Barcelona and a Neuer save was followed by yet another attacking period for the Bavarians, ironically after making a defensive sub, bringing on midfielder (and sometimes defender) Luis Gustavo for goalscorer Mario Gomez in the 71st.

Before the substitute could even see the ball, Arjen Robben beat Jordi Alba towards the near post from the television camera's point of view. The quick Dutchman made a poor angle into a more workable one with a slide to his left, and then proceeded to slot the ball in past Valdes at the far post for the most unexpected goal of the match.

And finally, all of Müller's hard work in the attack was rewarded in the 82nd minute with a goal of his own, which followed a fantastic move forward. Four to zero.

One could even say that Barcelona's game plan worked to a large extent- they had all of the possession that they could possibly want and ended the match with 66% of it. That said, their best chance at scoring came from the foot of Bayern's Dante. The much-praised attack of years past at best fizzled into being able to work the ball around the area without losing it for long periods of time. Their crosses had nobody on the end of them and their shots were few and far between, with just one on target for the entire match.

It goes without saying that this scoreline should be more than enough going to Spain next week, so I'll wrap up the review with another angle on this historical match.

If you are a Bayern fan and have been for any number of years, please enjoy this. I've regretted not enjoying last year's defeat of Real Madrid more than I did since June. I'm not sure that it gets any better short of winning the whole thing. And we know that is no guarantee.

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