Barcelona took just 45 minutes to plant one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League as they waltzed into the back of Bayern’s net four times to leave the Germans shell-shocked.
The blockbuster showdown between the Champions League’s two highest scoring sides saw just one team turn up on the pitch as
Bayern Munich may have smashed a dozen goals past Sporting CP in total in the previous round but they found themselves four down inside the first 45 minutes against a ruthless Blaugrana side. And one man in particular, Lionel Messi, stole the show, scoring twice, setting up one and creating another.
Dani Alves galloped upfield down the right and squared the ball to Xavi, who sprayed the ball forward on the edge of the box to Thierry Henry and the Frenchman comfortably rounded Hans-Jorg Butt but his tame sidefoot shot from a tight angle was cleared off the line by Martin Demichelis.
But on eight minutes, the hosts went ahead. Again from another free flowing move, Henry played in Iniesta, who teed up Eto’o but the Cameroonian rolled the ball to an unmarked Lionel Messi on the left channel and the in-form Argentine took one touch to guide the ball into the box and clinically swept it past Butt with his left foot.
Even before the Bavarians could regroup and catch their breath, Barca doubled their advantage four minutes later. And Messi returned the favour with an assist in an identical move to their first chance, except it was Eto’o who got to the end of the Argentine’s gorgeous through ball and the striker coolly nutmegged the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Pep Guardiola went ballistic on the touchline and he was promptly banished from the dugout to the stands. And moments later, Bayern had their first real look-in at goal after 20 minutes when Franck Ribery floated in a free kick from the left and Victor Valdes came out to punch nervously, but his defenders were there to clear the threat.
Right to the other end, Henry was released clean through on goal by Iniesta but the Frenchman just dragged his shot wide off-balance and ended up colliding studs with Butt. The game went into a lull after that as the German giants started to ease their way into the contest and Barca were limited to long range attempts.
But completely against the run of play, the Catalan behemoths went three up in the 37th minute. It was simpler move this time as Henry darted past Massimo Oddo on the left before squaring it to Messi and ‘Little Lionel’, surrounded by three, beat Butt to the ball at the near post to stab it home for his eighth goal of the competition.
Straight from the restart, Die Roten produced their first shot on target when Bastian Schweinsteiger thumped in a fierce drive inside the area on the left channel but Valdes dived low to his right to make sure he wasn’t beaten at his near post.
Just as Bayern were starting to threaten, the Blaugrana made it 4-0 on 43 minutes. Messi played a one-two with Alves to open space for himself to cut into the middle but he was swamped by a crowd of Bayern defenders who bullied him off the ball, but it somehow squirmed to Henry and the ex-Arsenal forward coolly dispatched it past a static Butt.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Ribery had the best chance for the visitors when he was released through on goal but with only Valdes to beat, he pulled his shot wide across the goalmouth. But a minute into first-half injury time, Barca almost made it five when Alves drilled in a low cross but it bounced off Henry at the far post and dropped for an unaware Iniesta, who thumped in a hasty volley wide.
The first real chance of the second period fell, predictably to Messi, who swivelled infield from the right and unleashed a low left-footed piledriver on the edge of the box only for Butt to slap it away. Eto’o then took a shot from distance just on the hour mark despite having acres of space to run at and he blazed his effort well over the bar.
Guardiola’s men did eventually start to gradually downshift their gears to conserve energy as the clock ticked down, but more worryingly for Jurgen Klinsmann, his troops failed to look any more dangerous.
They did create one opening, though, on 70 minutes when Ze Roberto was put through on goal by Ribery but as he pulled the trigger from six yards out, Carles Puyol lunged forward with a superb last-ditch tackle to block the shot.
That sprung Barca to life and they swiftly went into assault mode again. Iniesta glided down the left flank before scooping the ball over the Bayern backline for Eto’o but it was just a touch too heavy. Moments later, Iniesta waltz into the box and jinked in between two defenders but his dipping shot aiming for the top left corner just shaved the crossbar.
Messi almost nabbed his hat-trick a minute into injury time when Iniesta jogged past a throng of defenders to the byline before clipping a cross to the middle for the Argentine, but his half-hearted shot was blocked by his own team-mate, Seydou Keita. That, however, was barely enough to dishearten the jubilant
The only blemish for the home side was defender Rafa Marquez’s yellow card in the final minutes as the booking will force him to sit out the return leg at the Allianz Arena next week. For the Bavarians, this is their heaviest defeat in the Champions League in their storied history.
Unused subs: Gudjohnsen, Sylvinho, Martin Caceres, Pinto
Bayern Munich (4-3-3): Butt – Oddo, Breno, Demichelis, Lell – Schweinsteiger, Van Bommel, Ze Roberto (Sosa, 76’) – Altintop (Ottl, 46’), Toni, Ribery
Unused subs: Podolski, Badstuber, Lahm, Borowski, Rensing
Bayern Munich: Lell (47’), Oddo (50’), Demichelis (57’)
KS Leong, Goal.com