The rise of German football
Bayern Munich's midfielder Thomas TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO/ODD ANDERSEN
Barcelona was dealt a crushing 7-0 aggregate defeat in the semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League, after being thoroughly outplayed by a disciplined Bayern Munich outfit last week.
This defeat was the highest score that any team has lost by at this stage of the competition. But why?
Barcelona has become over reliant on the mercurial Messi.
An ageing squad has resulted in a far less energetic performance from the previously dominant outfit. Of the 48 goals scored by Barcelona this season, 21 goals are from the boot of Messi, which is almost 44%.
Much to Barca’s dismay, Messi was unable to play in the second leg of the semifinal last week due to a recurring hamstring injury.
After a tense first half, it became quite clear that it was going to be a very long night for Barcelona when Arjen Robben scored the first goal in the 48th minute of play.
Barcelona’s defence came unstuck with Robben’s quick feet allowing the winger to cut onto his favoured left boot. Defences are aware that whenever he is on the right side of the attacking 18 yard box, he’ll cut in into his left side and strike.
Stopping the Dutchman is another matter completely.
Barcelona was now desperate and needed to score goals. Gerard Pique had the ball in the back of the net, pity it was put into his own net.
This crushed Barca, and the realisation of the task became clear, six goals was an insurmountable lead against a very well drilled Bayern outfit.
Criticism was pointed at Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes, after a flawed performance in the first leg calls were made to put reserve keeper Julio Cesar Chavez in.
Vilanova persisted with the Spanish international and his faith was not repaid as Valdes was a player bereft of confidence.
German football seems to be improving quite well as Borussia Dortmund managed to edge out Real Madrid in the other semifinal.
These results mean all-German final to kick off on the 25th May at the home of English football, the stunning new Wembley Stadium.
Bayern has been nothing short of unstoppable in the Bundesliga season; but the question on everyone’s lips is, can they win the Champions League?
Fresh in minds of Bayern fans is last season’s final against Chelsea. Munich, from a strong position, went down to might of Didier Drogba.
Some pundits believe Bayern will win the final, as the heartbreak of last year should inspire a monumental performance.
Bayern have experienced two heartbreaking defeats, first against Inter Milan, then incredibly against Chelsea.
This time it’s an all-German affair against Dortmund.
Can they overcome the demons of previous finals? It makes for an intriguing affair as both sides are committed to attack and both play very fluid formations.
Is this the end of an era at Barca? True champions bounce back from disappointment, but for now the football world is focused as German football is experiencing its moment the sun.