Superb Bayern outplay Barcelona

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Barcelona were defeated 4-0 by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the away leg of the Champions League semifinals. The Blaugrana enjoyed 62 percent of possession, created four goal-scoring chances and attempted three shots, only one of them on target.

Having already done their homework in their respective domestic leagues, both coaches could prepare exclusively for this match for the past two weeks and an incredibly even contest was generally expected. However, it was the German champions who always seemed to have the upper hand in terms of strength, hunger and overall effectiveness.

- Hunter: Bayern grab baton from Barca
- Schaaf: Gut. Besser. Bayern.
- Pique: No excuses for defeat
- Robben revels in beating Barcelona
- Press Pass: Munich marvels

Barcelona managed to gain control of possession for the majority of the game but, unfortunately, they failed to transform such dominance into any significant danger. In a clear contrast, Die Roten were able to hold position comfortably while patiently waiting for an opening.

The Blaugranas did manage to play aggressively during given periods but, ultimately, they were outplayed by a team that competed better on the night, always making life hard for Barca's famously weakened back line. Bayern were physically stronger, superb with and without ball, dropped into their own half when needed and closed down intelligently. It was a superb performance which FC Hollywood supporters would have definitely enjoyed.

As for Barcelona, there certainly weren't many positives to take. Ultimately, the team's inability to defend set pieces at the highest level proved too much to overcome. Add to that a generalised sense of defensive disorganisation and the inability to create clear goal-scoring chances and the only outcome could be a major tragedy, which virtually ended the club's journey towards their fifth Champions League trophy.

Let's be honest: While this group of players has achieved extremely highly over the years, expecting Barcelona to overcome such an enormous deficit at the Camp Nou may be a step too far at this stage.

There aren't any excuses to be found either. Sure, the referee failed to see Mario Gomez scoring Bayern's second from an offside position and ignored a blatant foul on Jordi Alba before their third, but the truth is that the hosts always seemed to have the edge and were the better team.

However, there is disappointment at Tito Vilanova's inability to make an impact on the game as it developed. Sure, the coach did introduce David Villa with eight minutes to go, but the game was already over by then. The fact that the team suffered the heaviest defeat in the Champions League since 1997 while Cesc Fabregas remained on the bench as an unused substitute and on-form Cristian Tello watched from the stands is puzzling, to say the least.

Once again, the Catalan squad has reached the decisive part of the season completely exhausted both physically and mentally. Personally, I would wait until the season is finally over to analyse the situation in more depth but, even at this point, it is clear that difficult questions must be asked, perhaps even unpopular decisions taken in order to regain glory at European level.

Every single football fan around the world knows about Barcelona's crystal-clear inability to defend the simplest of set pieces and, frustratingly, the board has failed to sign any reliable, taller centre backs for far too many years now.

Perhaps this humiliating 4-0 defeat will finally make Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta think about spending the club's budget wisely, in the area where investment is more obviously needed, on the back line.

Despite the doom and gloom it's important to point out that it is at times like this that fans have a chance to show their true colours. Celebrating titles and endless winning streaks is both delightful and extremely easy to do, but supporting a club when things turn ugly is what makes the difference.

Player Ratings (0-10; 10=best)

Victor Valdes (5) - Despite being beaten four times, he did in fact manage to make several good saves throughout the match.

Dani Alves (4) - Plenty of effort at both ends of the pitch. Poor overall passing, crossing mostly inaccurate.

Gerard Pique (3) - Unable to impose his presence defensively. Beaten repeatedly.

Marc Bartra (4) - Struggled to cope at the highest European level, which is totally understandable considering others such as Adriano have been given as much time as the youngster as a central defender this season. Missed Barcelona's clearest goal-scoring chance.

Jordi Alba (5) - Struggled defensively. Determined to run forward to overlap the midfielders, committed to tracking back when needed.

Sergio Busquets (4) - Combined constantly with others around him from midfield, but failed to ensure the ball flowed at the required speed. Not always capable of stopping Die Roten from building their attacks.

Xavi Hernandez (5) - Controlled possession extensively but didn't find a way to unlock the rival defence or get the forwards involved as much as Cules would have liked.

Andres Iniesta (5) - Committed to find a way to connect with his teammates in midfield, but didn't manage to create any remarkable danger further up the pitch.

Lionel Messi (3) - Couldn't make the impact that Cules have come to expect. Often isolated up front and unable to find a way to link unless he dropped deep into midfield. Despite the medical reports, it appeared he had not fully recovered from his minor hamstring injury. A night to forget.

Alexis Sanchez (3) - Spirited, but largely ineffective. Didn't seem to find any spaces.

Pedro Rodriguez (4) - Combined well from the wings, stretched the pitch but couldn't find a way to threaten Manuel Neuer.

Substitutes: David Villa (4)

Have your say

What did you think of Barcelona's performance versus Bayern Munich?

Who was your Man of the Match? What are your player ratings?

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

For more news and opinion notes on Barcelona, follow Francesc Tomas at @BarcablogESPN and Facebook; 33,000 Cules have already joined.

ESPN Conversations