As if to improve upon their dispatch of Juventus in the quarter final Bayern Munich saved the best until, nearly, last. When the much anticipated clash with Barcelona arrived it wasn`t so much a clash of styles but of culture and football belief. Put bluntly many people saw it as sabre versus rapier with the vast majority of neutrals hoping that finesse would triumph over pragmatism.
Humiliation and Barcelona are two words that rarely appear on the same page let alone same sentence but that is exactly what Bayern Munich meted out to every neutral`s favourite `second` team.
It was a complete reversal for the Catalan side who are more used to dishing out footballing lessons than being on the receiving end. And it is testimony to just how good the Germans were on the night that a more emphatic scoreline was well within reach.
In the aftermath grave doubts were cast on the quality of the officiating, especially where the crucial second and third goals were concerned, but truth be told Barcelona were trounced.
Ribery and Robben were unplayable and Messi could not get into the game. The former has been owed Bayern for some time but the latter was so unbelievable that no one could explain why.
Muller opened the scoring on 25 minutes when Dante towered over Alves to head the ball across goal. It was going wide until Muller stooped to conquer and head home. It was Munich`s aerial supremacy that was to be a major factor on the night and so it was four minutes after the restart. Robben whipped a corner towards the far post and three players rose to challenge. Two of them were Barcelona defenders but they lacked the conviction necessary to put Muller off and when his header set up Gomez, clearly offside to everyone but the official on that line, he turned the ball home.
Munich then had three very good chances but it was a fourth effort that hit home.
Robben, taking time off from out of character tracking back went at pace in the opposite direction before cutting in on that wand of a left foot. Forget that Muller blocked Jordi Alba out of the way, the referee certainly did, but once Robben went inside the curling shot that flew past Valdez was exquisite.
Muller completed the `sandwich` by sliding in number four from Gustavo`s cross and Barcelona trooped off at the final whistle having suffered their worst European reverse for 16 years.
Four words dominated the miles of column inches and hours of punditry pontification –
END OF AN ERA.
Everyman and his dog had a say that basically suggested Barca were finished and when Dortmund `did` Real the following evening the four words changed to-
NEW GERMAN ERA DAWNS.
Fantasists believed that Barca were the only team on the planet that could overcome the deficit they faced at the Camp Nou.
Mission Possible became Mission Impossible when Messi was rule unfit to play. Needless to say a bad night got progressively worse for the home side. As for the visitors, well they just picked up from whence they left off at the Allianz Arena though it took them until the second half to add to their emphatic advantage.
Robben, possibly on his way out of the club, scored three minutes after the restart and Gerard Pique, who had been the only Barcelona player to play anywhere near standard put through his own goal before Thomas Muller, with a header of course, made the aggregate score 7-0.
Factoring in that Munich rested the six players on a yellow card the panache with which they became the first team to beat Barcelona in both legs of a European tie was phenomenal.
Now the focus switched to more familiar opponents on the stage that is the Champions` League Final at Wembley with the added twist of that being a one-off game.