Magic Lionel Messi too good for Bayern.
All the talk may have been about Pep Guardiola prior to the match, but it was Lionel Messi who stole the show and helped his team to a 3-0 victory over Guardiola’s Bayern side.
The Argentine put on a dazzling performance and scored a 3 minute brace, including 1 world class goal which left Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neur red faced. Neymar added a 3rd in the final seconds of the match, which could prove to be a decisive goal with only Deportivo being the only team to overturn a 3 goal lead in the CL.
It appeared that it was a solid night’s defensive work for Bayern Munich until the 77th minute, with Barcelona striking 3 times in the remaining 13 minutes to put an enormous dent in Munich’s hopes of reaching the final.
Guardiola deployed a 3 man backline to try and contain Barca’s 3 pronged attack of Neymar, Messi and Suarez, but this was quickly abandoned after the Catalan side nearly went ahead in the opening 15 minutes with the defence being stretched and Neur coming to the rescue. Barcelona came close again just moments later, but Neymar was unable to reach Suarez’s ball across the box which was deflected behind for a corner.
Munich also had a golden opportunity to take the lead early on, but Robert Lewandoski could only poke wide his close range effort wide of the post. Munich saw plenty of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, but they struggled to advance with Barcelona pressing high up the pitch and looking to counter attack. Despite this, the first half ended goalless and it appeared that either team could go on and win the game.
The second half saw the intensity rise in the match and Barcelona continued to create chances. Neur looked in fine form and had kept side in the game, but then Messi took over the game and showed why he is the best in the world. Alves smartly dispossessed Munich after pressing high up the pitch, with the ball then finding Messi on the edge of the box. Messi dropped his shoulder and hit the ball low and hard to beat Neur at his near post, giving the keeper little time to get down to make the save.
Just minutes after breaking the deadlock, Messi proved his class once again with a goal that had even the neutrals on their feet. Rakatic found Messi in a similar to position for his first goal, but this time the Argentine ran at Boateng, changed direction to leave the defender flat on his back, before he coolly dinked the ball over the towering German keeper. Both Bayern Munich and the home fans were stunned by what they had just seen, but Barcelona were not finished just yet.
Bayern Munich pushed on desperately trying to find an away goal which would give them a huge lift, but this would cost them in the final minute after they lost the ball and Barca began to counterattack. Suarez was brought down near the half way line but the referee smartly played advantage which allowed Messi to set Neymar free, who then calmly stroked the ball past Neur to complete a humbling night for Guardiola in his return.
Although Munich had played well for a large section of the match and contained Barcelona as best anyone could, they also failed to register a shot on target the entire match. Lewandoski’s early effort was their only notable chance, with the German outfit clearly missing the likes of Robben and Ribery. They now face a mammoth task next Tuesday night back at the Allianz arena, and although it seems Barcelona are set to return to the final, Munich will be buoyed by their fighting spirit in the previous round where they overturned a 3-1 first leg loss to Porto in ruthless fashion.
Barcelona meanwhile will be confident that they will advance, but they will also be weary of Bayern’s goalscoring threat at home. The Catalan side were frustrated much of the match, but a dazzling end sent the fans home happy and served as a reminder of Messi’s sheer class and ability to turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye.