An era looks set to close

[BAYERN MUNICH-BARCELONA] Have we seen the end of an era? Barcelona, which has dominated European soccer with 14 trophies (going on 15 with the 2013 La Liga title), slumped to a 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal series and looks sure to go out in the semifinals for the fourth time in the last six years. The fact is, Tuesday's defeat could have been worse.

With the hobbling Lionel Messi a shadow of his normal self, Barcelona had little to show for its usual domination in possession. Short of ideas, the Spanish giant had only two shots to show for its 63 percent of the possession.

On the other end, Bayern was rampant, dominating its opponents with its blend of power, speed and precision.

Roared on by a crowd of 68,000 at the Allianz Arena, the German club got two goals from Thomas Mueller, who also assisted a goal by Mario Gomez and set a basketball-style pick that wiped out Jordi Alba and allowed Arjen Robben to dash in from the right wing and slot the ball home from a tight angle.

Barca had a right to feel aggrieved on the Robben goal, but it was also lucky to have avoided a pair of penalties for handballs in the area.

The Catalan club certainly missed injured captain Carles Puyol in the middle of its defense, but it's hard to believe the final result would have been much better for Barca with him in the lineup.

The warning signs for Barca have been there all spring. It fell behind AC Milan 2-0 in the first leg of the round of 16 before moving on. It was lucky to get past Paris St. Germain in the quarterfinals.

Messi's hamstring injury rendered him ineffective. He hasn't played a La Liga game since before being injured in the first leg against PSG and only played the last half hour of the second leg against PSG before starting on Tuesday.

While his La Liga streak of 19 games in a row with at least one goal is still alive, he hasn't scored a goal in three weeks -- an eternity by his standards -- since he put Barca ahead shortly before being injured in the first half of the game in Paris.

"Miracles are very difficult and 4-0 is a very difficult result to turn around," admitted Barca's assistant coach Jordi Roura, referring to the second leg at the Camp Nou on May 1. "But our duty is to fight until the end and that is what we will do."

Bayern is enjoying a record-breaking season -- it has lost just one of 30 Bundesliga matches and is one goal shy of averaging three a game -- but the ease with which it picked apart the Barca defense was astonishing. Tuesday's result surprised even Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"We played fantastically today,"  he said. "I have never experienced a night like this, and I have been around for quite some time. I think we all saw Lionel Messi was not fully fit. We have a very good chance now of reaching the final."

April 23 in Munich
Bayern Munich 4 Barcelona 0. Goals: Muller 25, Gomez 49, Robben 73, Muller 82.
Bayern Munich -- Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Muller (Pizarro 83), Ribery (Shaqiri 88), Gomez (Gustavo 71).
Barcelona -- Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Pedro (Villa 83).
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Att.: 68,000



19 comments about "An era looks set to close".
  1. DonJuego Lee, April 24, 2013 at 8 a.m.

    What a load of crap to write that Barca was hurt by the poor decision on the Robben goal but lucky on the non-handballs. They were non-handballs that would have been very harsh to give. You cannot equate the two. The Robben goal was clearly wrongly called. That is just horse manure writing.

  2. Kerry Ogden, April 24, 2013 at 9:12 a.m.

    Spot on assesstment of the game, I'm glad to see Barcelona finally get demoralized on the pitch & hope that Bayern finishes Barca of in the 2nd leg!

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, April 24, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.

    Agree with Mr. Lee. Not only should the Robben goal not have been allowed, but the first goal replays clearly show Alves being mugged trying to go up for a clearing header before the goal,as well as the 2nd goal being offside by at least a yard. In my mind, only one goal was clean and came late when Barca was pushing so many forward.

  4. Mark N, April 24, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.

    Sure, it could have been 6-0. But it SHOULD have been less than 4-0. I was shocked that Gomez' offside goal and Robben's goal were allowed. However Bayern outclassed and overpowered Barca in every area, so a just result. Speaking of demoralized, who else felt vicariously better when Robben got smacked in the mouth by Alba?

  5. ROBERT BOND, April 24, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.

    The refs allowed all kinds of contact both ways in a consistent fashion, a type of game that is making a comeback. Mueller was moving towards the ball & did not grab. Gomez was on sides-Barca's #2 was falling backwards & kept him on sides, had nothing to do with Pique'. If Barca manage only 2 shots on goal next week, the calls are moot. What does SA's in house ref expert think?

  6. Luciano Castro, April 24, 2013 at 11:18 a.m.

    Once again, the brute force with the help of an incompetent referee prevailed. And, I'm not a Barcelona fun. The third goal ws a disgrace, how can the linesman and referee not see Muller's blatant foul. I thought for a moment that I was watching American football. Any how, Barcelona is finished in the UCL.

  7. Thomas Fouce, April 24, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.

    Jordi Alba is the Danny Ainge of soccer. Ainge spent the majority of his career with the Celtics whining and pouting.
    You can complain about various calls all you want but the bottom line is that Bayern flat outplayed Barca.

  8. Vince Leone, April 24, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.

    After seeing Bayern score 3 goals that should have been disallowed, it's hard not to wonder about match fixing.

  9. I w Nowozeniuk, April 24, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

    Amici doubt BM was playing on all cylinders and deserved a victory. Ditto for Barca being out of tune and the not fit Messi had no business being out on the pitch...bad coaching decision. While, the scoreline is a bit tainted, it is too early to write off the Barca dynasty. IMHO, BM looks like the best bet for the trophy if they play with the same efficacy and intensity. Mr. Bond, Mueller never grabbed, he simply illegally impeded.

  10. Merrill Ring, April 24, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.

    The match showed the incompetence of Tito Vilanova. Going down 1 goal he might have said at half 'Let's shut it down - we can make it up at home.' He clearly should have said that after the 2nd goal. But he switched absolutely nothing, not organization, not players. He will be fired after the season.

  11. Paul C, April 24, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.

    Two great teams and a couple missed calls against both sides. Take two goals away for foul and offsides and give two penalties for handballs. OUtcome was probably just. Barca has had a hard time winning games against attacking teams with 11 players on the field for the past five years. They smash teams who sit back and give them time. This may be the first tournament in this glorious run that they have played a full sided team in years. Go back and look at how many red cards benefitted Barca in semi finals for them to advance. Do not be surprised when Barca are playing a ten man BAY next week.
    All great things must come to an end.

  12. Bill Anderson, April 24, 2013 at 10:08 p.m.

    Paul C. Correct on the analysis of sitting in vs attacking Barcelona. Also a very valid point about EUFA and the red card free ride for Barcelona. It is always easy to look good when you are a man or two up, but against good teams full strength it is a much different task.

  13. los sietes, April 24, 2013 at 10:33 p.m.

    3 Illegal goals, David Villa and too much banking on Messi

    Yes Barca's cycle may be ending but 3 goals were illegally scored. David Villa should be played more, even though he has has tibia and now age issues. But Messi is relied upon too much.. there was a shift away from overwhelming pressure and the 3 second rule and Messi not pressuring as a strategy a few years ago... it worked for awhile, but they need to go back to what they used to do, you haven't seen overwhelming pressure from Barca in over 2 years...Villa should have played, Alexis needs to go, but that may be the opposite of next year's happenings... Funny, BM's best player, Javi Martinez, well may be starting for Spain in the 2014 WC... interesting about BM... they are peaking at an old age, if the claim it all, they will only be on top for a year and then gone. Malaga got burned by Dortmund ... 2 goals in 2 minutes at end of game, both offside...replays, had they been instituted would have 3 Spanish clubs still very much alive in this tournament

  14. los sietes, April 24, 2013 at 10:35 p.m.

    Paul C... your comments are wrong

  15. los sietes, April 24, 2013 at 10:37 p.m.

    Robert Bond... your comments are wrong

  16. los sietes, April 24, 2013 at 10:38 p.m.

    Thomas F... silly comment by you... mark my words... Jordi Alba has a chance at being the best LEFT BACK IN HISTORY, bar none

  17. Allan Lindh, April 25, 2013 at 3:05 a.m.

    Mueller's pick would have drawn 15 yds in NFL, the offside was blatant. Score should have been no more than 2-0, and that's with Barca effectively playing with 10 men. And Schweinsteiger (sp) should have been carrying a yellow early on. And Gomez's blatant cross-check on Messi was a deliberate attempt to injure. Real problem at Barca is centerbacks, and I expect a big signing over summer.

  18. ROBERT BOND, April 25, 2013 at 9:59 a.m.

    I'm wrong that getting only 2 shots on goal would make it hard to beat anyone? Several more of Bayern's 9 could have gone in. Complaing about the ref's does as much good as griping about the weather, except for a ridiculous yellw by a Spanish ref, Mandzukic is playing, those things even out, Bayern & Dortmund controlled all but 10 minutes of each game, love to see all that Spanish ball possesion-on their half of the pitch.....

  19. Aresenal Fan, May 2, 2013 at 3:33 p.m.

    I'm not a Barca fan, but I doubt it. They had a miserable time with Bayern, but had too many key players hurt, including the best player that will every play, Messi. Expect some house cleaning this summer. This humiliating defeat in both legs to Bayern will just fuel the proud Barcelona organization, Bayern just messed with a hornets nest.

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