Bayern Munich are on course for their third UEFA Champions League final in four years after a comprehensive and convincing 4-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-final at the Allianz Arena. Two goals from Thomas Muller and one each from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben gave Jupp Heynckes' side an advantage which, added to the manner of their victory, leaves the Catalans little hope of turning things around at the Camp Nou next Wednesday.
Barcelona eased into their possession game from the outset, but Bayern, a side who wrapped up the Bundesliga in record time this season, and scored 16 goals in the space of ten days recently, certainly had no reason to feel inferior. Not only did they play Barça at their own game, they did it even better.
For Xavi, read Javi Martinez, for a well-marshalled Messi, you could take your pick from either Robben, Muller or Franck Ribery. Quicker to close down their opponents, Bayern were also swifter in spreading the play, and unsurprisingly they had the first chance with Robben exchanging passes with Martinez before shooting straight at Victor Valdes in the second minute.
Bayern had a clear hunger to make amends for last May's defeat to Chelsea, a result which remains a painful memory in Munich.
Bayern did not need any help in crafting out a stylish opener in the 25th minute. Arjen Robben's cross from the right picked out Dante at the far post, and he returned the ball to the opposite post where Muller was encroaching to head in the opener with Victor Valdes unable to stop the ball before it crept in.
Muller was the man who had given Bayern the lead in the final last May, but few were now thinking back to what happened next in that game. Dante averted a minor scare five minutes later when he got in a vital touch just in front of an anonymous Messi from Pedro's cross, but that was a mere punctuation in a dominant display from Bayern.
Bayern press further ahead
Their superiority became reflected in the scorelline in the 49th minute when Robben's corner was headed down at the far post by Muller with an unmarked Gomez sweeping the ball in from underneath the crossbar.
An intrepid Robben then set up Ribery, who dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 55th minute as Bayern sought a greater cushion. They established that in the 72nd minute when Robben capped a fine individual performance by sliding the ball inside the far post after getting in around the back of Jordi Alba.
Marc Bartra wasted a rare opportunity for the guests in the 76th minute before Muller wrapped things up six minutes later, tucking the ball in from close range after David Alaba got round the back of Barça's crumbling defence.