By Kris Voakes
To many the tie was over as soon as Lionel Messi’s name didn’t appear among the first 11 names on the teamsheet. By the end, Barcelona fans were left wishing they’d been able to forfeit there and then.
Bayern Munich’s 3-0 victory at Camp Nou completed a phenomenal 7-0 aggregate win in the Champions League semi-final and consigned the Catalans to the kind of humiliation they have only previously subjected rather than felt themselves. The starkest fact of the last eight days is that Bayern have been every bit seven goals better than Barca.
|MATCH FACTS | Barca 0-3 Bayern
If anything, Bayern were even more superior in the second leg than they were at the Allianz Arena, but Barca were also worse. With no Messi there was no cutting edge. Over the two games they created no real clear-cut chances to speak of, and while that may be partly forgiven in an away leg, there was simply no excusing their inability to trouble Bayern second time around.
Bayern didn’t really need to emphasise the gap any further, but three second-half goals from Arjen Robben, a calamitous Gerard Pique own goal and Thomas Muller did exactly that. Bayern were brilliant and Barcelona had nothing in return. The ‘ole’ that came with each pass during the final half-hour came like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard to the ears of every Catalan in the stadium.
The phrase ‘End of an era’ might well have been trending on Twitter tonight such has been the depth of disappointment in the Blaugrana’s displays over the two legs. It may be easy to say in the immediate aftermath of such an unbelievable result, but there is certainly growing evidence to support it.
The blessing may come in just how big a defeat this is for Barca. If they had been edged out by Bayern as they were by Chelsea this time last year then maybe they could explain it away as a blip. Instead there can be no doubting that serious rebuilding has to be done.
This was their biggest ever aggregate defeat in a European Cup knockout match. Even when Barcelona were not ‘this Barcelona’ they never received such a spanking. But that doesn’t mean they are at their lowest ebb, after all, they’re not exactly starting from scratch as they look to recover from this.
There is much to do though, and Bayern showed exactly where Barcelona need to be. The Bavarians are the hottest team in the world right now, while the Catalans are just one of a number of outfits who are left looking on in admiration.
After the performances of the last couple of weeks, the Champions League final will be one of the most highly anticipated showpieces in recent memory. There will be no Messi and no Barcelona, but that is just how it should be. The Blaugrana have a lot to learn from Bayern, especially now they have seen at first hand just how good the Bavarians are.