After a thrilling game by two top clubs, Bayern Munich ended up in front 3-2 but it was not enough as Barcelona won 5-2 on aggregate. Barca will now return to Germany on June 6th for a shot at their fifth European Championship. However, the result could have much different ; similar to the with the previous game, Bayern will be left asking “what if” as if just a few things went differently, they could have been the ones celebrating.
The match was always going to be decided by the first half and in the beginning Bayern looked like it would be their half and possibly game. It was a dream start for Bayern, with a quick goal, tons of pressure, Barcelona looking shaky, and 3 to 4 other great opportunities. If Ter Stegen doesn’t come up big in those first few minutes or if the German club was a bit more technical with their finishes the score could have easily been 3-0 before 20 minutes were gone.
As it was, Bayern were wasteful, Ter Stegen was outstanding, and before Bayern knew it, they were caught on the counter and predictably Messi, Suarez, and Neymar combined for another brilliant goal.
That goal more or less ended any hope Bayern Munich had by increasing the goal difference and calming down the shaky Barcelona squad. Last game it was Messi that saved Barcelona, this game it was the combination of all three.
Messi, Suarez, and Neymar are playing so well together and are at a level above everyone else in the world that at this point it is not even fair for the opposition.
Enrique basically came into the second leg with a strategy of kick away—knowing that if any of the MSN trio won the ball, the odds were that the ball would end up in the back of the net. This description is not to simplify or disregard what Enrique has done with Barcelona this year—he has been through the fire and proven his importance over the last few months— but it appears at this point that 8 fish and chips aficionados and Messi, Suarez, and Neymar would be the odds on favorite against any opponent.
But to be fair to the rest of the Barcelona squad, they were the better club over both matches and the deserving winners.
The way the team has come together since the turmoil in January and the way Enrique has them playing—alternating between possession and long balls— is astonishing. The club is on the verge of once again being where they believe they belong, being the most exciting and best in the world.
In contrast, Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola are heading home early. There has been much criticism leveled at both the club and the coach by fat guys on couches and nearly all of it is erroneous.
In the past four years Bayern has reached the European finals twice, winning it once and then reaching the semi-finals the other two years. Guardiola has coached for 6 years with 2 European trophies in his closet and another 4 appearances in the semis. Both resumes that any (even the most demanding) team or coach would salivate over.
Guardiola got the tactics right on Tuesday and his team had the chances to put themselves into the game. And despite the score line in the first leg, if it wasn’t for Messi being Messi, it is highly likely that Bayern would have gotten out of Camp Nou with a draw.
Even though Guardiola was without his best creative players—Robben and Ribery—and Lewandowski was not at 100%. The past two semi-final’s final scores are not a bright spot for Pep or his team but in both instances his team were, simply put, up against better clubs.
Pep decided to attack them and play positive football. He failed but that doesn’t mean he was incorrect. He believes in a football strategy and more often than not it has proven extremely successful. In the Champion’s League, only one team can win and as history has shown, it is nearly impossible to repeat as champions.
Bayern Munich and Pep have continued to make it to the last four of the tournament, proving that every year they are one of the best teams in Europe. A club cannot win the trophy every year, but if they keep getting to the semis, chances are sooner rather than later the trophy will be won. That is more than almost every club and coach could imagine—well except Barcelona.
In the end, Bayern head into the summer while Barcelona is on to Berlin and possibly European glory and domestic domination. But beyond the simple results, the semifinal was just two great games of football. Two attacked minded teams going after each other, pressing all over the field, and showing how attractive and tactical positive tactics can be.
Barcelona won this one, Bayern will think what might have been, and everyone else just got to witness a phenomenal 180 minutes of football. What more could you ask for?