Bayern Munich can do something right 1000 times, and then on the 1001st time, Lionel Messi will strike. On a night of empty chances, the Argentine forward scored two pristine goals late in the second half to thrust Barcelona ahead in the tie. Neyamar added a third in second half stoppage time as Barcelona went on to beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal.
Messi took advantage of commotion after a Barcelona penalty shout, positioning himself with the ball at the top of the box before splitting the lunges of Philipp Lahm and Jérôme Boateng. Just three minutes later, he charged forward on a Barcelona rush, getting Boateng to lose his footing before floating a chip inside the far corner before Rafinha could clear it out.
With Bayern throwing players forward to come up with an away goal, Neymar was able to get behind Bayern on a break before slotting it past the dive of Manuel Neuer. Barcelona now take a three-goal lead into Munich for the second leg, putting Bayern under suffocating pressure to find a way to Berlin for the final.
Barcelona had all the chances, forcing Pep Guardiola to change his tactics after a quarter of an hour. Luis Suárez got the came cracking early in the first half, staying onside long enough for Rakitic to put him one-on-one with the Manuel Neuer. Suárez aimed far post, but could not beat the right boot of the Neuer starfish. Suárez's hands immediately fell into his face, knowing he had the opportunity to put Barcelona ahead early in the match.
The Blaugrana had other chances to score too, including a deflected Neymar shot from point-blank range from Rafinha and a Suárez header over the bar off of a corner kick. Bayern were able to deflect and block several chances, but they could only contain the world's best center forward for so long.
Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller tried to keep a presence in the attacking end, but neither could put a shot on target in the match. The two nearly connected in the first half, Müller trying to pick out Lewandowski in the middle, but the pass was just past the left foot of Lewandowski as he tried to poke the ball in.
Bayern will trie to save the tie in the second leg at the Allianz Arena, which will take place next Tuesday.
Barcelona (3-0) Bayern Munich | Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
FCB: Lionel Messi (77', 80'), Neymar (90+4')
Barça XI (4-3-3): ter Stegen - Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Mascherano (Bartra 89'), Jordi Alba - Rakitic (Xavi 82'), Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta (Rafinha 87') - Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Bayern XI (4-4-2 Diamond): Neuer - Rafinha, Benatia, Boateng, Juan Bernat - Xabi Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Thiago Alcantara - Müller (Götze 79'), Lewandowski
- How Bayern were able to keep Barcelona off the score sheet for so long was astounding. Messi and Suárez were performing at their vintage best, both winning their one-on-one battles to get Barcelona into the final third. The chances Barça had in the first half were set up so perfectly, and yet Luis Suárez, Neymar, and Dani Alves could not put them in the back of the net. It looked as though Barcelona were going to regret the goals they left on the field until Messi took over the match.
- The switch from a three-man defense back to the traditional four was the most publicized tactical change I have ever seen. Even the AP felt it necessary to reveal the information that was blatantly obvious to even the most casual of football fans. People should not see the original intent in vain, for overloading the left flank on the side Suárez and Messi rotate on is a defensible tactic. Neymar and Jordi Alba got free too often on the opposite flank, however, prompting Guardiola to return to the more tradtional setup.
- The buildup play left much to be desired, Bayern unable to hold possession in the final third. Müller and Lewandowski did their best up front, but they often found themselves outnumberd and without a place to go. It was a harsh reality of not having Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, or Mario Götze on the field. Thiago and Schweinsteiger were not the ones to fill those roles, and Bayern may need to consider finding one outside of the club who can. Bayern cannot win games when they do not have a shot on target.