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The Catalan giants might have fallen at Munich but 'El Loco' feels that Messi & Co. will always remain a force to be reckoned with

HOLA!

Is the end of a golden era for sexy Barcelona?

Some are saying just that after the Catalans, with an unfit Lionel Messi playing at half-pace, were stunned 4-0 by in-form Bayern Munich in their Champions League first leg semi-final at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

A 2-0 defeat would have been OK ... but 4-0?

Many did not believe it, especially Barca fans, who may have yet to recover from the nightmare of seeing their team being defeated in such a manner.

It was a humiliation for the Spanish side who have been dominating Europe for the past several years, no matter what the excuses were; at least two of Bayern's goals should not have been counted for offside and a foul.

The in-form Bayern, who have been scoring goals regularly, were just too hot for Tito Vilanova's men that night.

Bayern were better in every aspect and Barca struggled to match them.

But there was already this danger of Barca being bashed because of their injury problems in defence and unfortunately this had really happened.

It was a sickening defeat for the Catalan giants and their fans.

But end of a golden era?

Not really.

Barca will still be up there challenging for honours in Europe at least for some time - if they can remedy some weaknesses.

The defence has been a major problem and need a revamp. Nowadays, it is hard to see Barca finishing a match without conceding a goal, even against lowly opponents.

The main centerbacks are Gerard Pique and veteran in the 35-year-old Carles Puyol, who is now sadly injury-prone.

The 26-year-old Pique has been struggling to find his old form since losing it last season and I don't really know what are his problems.

With Puyol suffering injuries,  28-year-old Argentina international Javier Mascherano has been 'transformed' into a centreback.

Mascherano barely scrapped through when playing this new role. But now he is also injured and did not play against Bayern.

Taking over his place is the inexperienced Marc Bartra, 22, who partnered Pique in the heart of defence on Tuesday.

He is good but needs more time to be better, obviously.

The good or encouraging news is that Barca are on look out for a quality centerback for the new season.

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany was one of the candidates mentioned earlier but the Belgium international was not keen to move to the Nou Camp.

Interestingly, also on Barca's radar is Borussia Dortmund star Mats Hummels.

Never mind the fact that he made a mistake which led to Cristiano Ronaldo scoring Real Madrid's only goal in Dortmund's impressive 4-1 victory in their Champions League first leg semi-final on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old is one of the hottest defenders in Europe right now and it will help Barca if he moves to the Nou Camp.

Interestingly, Germany international Hummels stands at 1.92m tall and this is handy for the Barca defence which is rather weak when it comes to dealing aeriel duels.

Pique is also 1.92m tall while Bartra stands at 1.83m.

Oh yes...Mascherano is just 1.74m tall and easily beaten in the air.

Barca are also looking for a new goalkeeper as Victor Valdes, 31, is expected to make a move.

What more, his deputy Pinto is already 37!

With that in mind, Barca are considering making a swap offer for Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

Quotidiano Nazionale reported that Barca have tabled a cash-plus-players bid for Handanovic, worth a mooted €28.5 million.

The proposal includes winger Alexis Sanchez and fullback Martin Montoya moving in part exchange.

Handanovic, who only joined Inter last summer, is aware of the Catalans' interest.

Inter have not thrown out the offer and are already considering replacements, including Cagliari keeper Michael Agazzi.

Anyway, Handanovic is a 28-year-old Slovenia international.

Barca will continue to be a team to beat in the coming years if they can get capable men to beef up the defence in the summer.

This is because their midfield and attack are still solid with names like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Messi, Pedro and David Villa around.

And Brazilian sensation Neymar is said to be joining the Catalans in the summer.

Both Barca fans and neutrals would love to see the Messi-Neymar combination in action. But still the main thing now for Barca is improving their defence.

Adios!  

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