Well….that escalated quickly! Barcelona were torn apart by Bayern München 4-0 this afternoon. Barça has not been beaten by that margin since 2007, and I can’t remember a time that I’ve ever seen them so toothless. We’re going to take a look at what happened in this match, and what caused it to get so out of hand. (By the way, I’m pretty sure I called this.)
First, let’s have a look at the pitch. The only reason I want to start here is because I would not be surprised if the Catalan club filed a complaint to UEFA about it in the coming days. As you know, the field is watered just before the game, and sometimes at half time. The same happened here, but it seems that before the game the Allianz Arena grounds crew may have gotten a little over zealous. The middle of the pitch had puddles for a solid 20 minutes at the beginning of the match, and not one part of me thinks this is by accident. We all know that Barcelona play a quick passing game, especially around the middle of the pitch. The water logged center circle slowed the ball down, and prevented the Blaugrana from establishing a rhythm early on in the match. Moving on from the wet pitch, we’ll take a look at the joke that is Barcelona’s defense.
Barcelona have a glaring problem at the back, and this is nothing new. The combination of short players and a timid ‘keeper make them dead meat from set pieces. The Spanish giants were no match for Bayern on corners, as evidenced by the two goals. Pique and Busquets (He’s a twat right?) are the only players tall enough to have any effect on a corner kick. The constant forward runs of Alba and Alves didn’t help Pique and young Bartra, who was outclassed before this one even started. If they had a better keeper, Barça could’ve possibly kept this thing somewhat close. But no. No, they have Victor Valdes. I have never seen what makes him spectacular in the eyes of others. He has absolutely no control over the 6 yard box, and flails wildly when he comes out to punch away a cross. Half of those punches miss the ball entirely, causing him to plow into whatever player is nearby. This constant scrambling and flailing leaves him out of position quite often throughout the match (see goals 1 and 2).
Poor player management may have been the real downfall of Barcelona today. An unfit Lionel Messi will never be enough to save an entire team from the mouth of the Sarlac (shame on you if you don’t get that reference, by the way). Messi, along with Alexis Sanchez, were ghosts the entire match. They had zero effect on the match, yet played the full 90 minutes. As if having two useless players on the pitch for the entire length of the match isn’t mind numbing enough, Tito Vilanova made zero changes, tactical or substitutions, until after the 70th minute. What changes did he make you ask? He gave Gerard Pique (rag knobhead) the permission to sprint forward into attack in order to pull the match back to a manageable score line. That’s right; he sent his only competent defender all the way to the opposition 18 yard box and left Bartra alone at the back. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?! Everything Tito, that’s what could go wrong! Pique runs forward, Bayern gets possession, runs down field, aaaaaand goal to the Bavarians. Tito finally decided that it was time to put on some fresh legs to really change the game in the 83rd minute; which is after Bayern had already scored their 4th goal. Baffling decisions abound for Barcelona in Munich.
Bayern Munich were victorious because of a combination of Barcelona incompetence and some wonderful defending and counter attacking play. Dante was one major stand out for me today. The big Brazilian was deadly from set pieces, and was a brick wall at the back. In front of him, Javi Martinez proved that he is worth every penny that the Bavarians offloaded to get him out of Spain over the summer. Martinez neutralized Xavi and Iniesta, and acted as a human shield for Jerome Boateng and the aforementioned Dante. Out wide, we saw an absolute clinic by Robben and Ribery. The work that these two men put in today was crucial in shutting down the fullbacks of Barcelona. That’s right, I’m commending Arjen Robben (yep, I really mean it) on his work ethic. The two explosive wingers spent a great amount of time tracking back in defense to help out their own fullbacks, and then bombing forward as soon as possession had been established. Robben and Ribery were co-men of the match in my opinion for the fantastic work that they put in on the flanks. Their play today was textbook, and video of them from this match could be a great use in showing players how to play both phases of the game when you are a wide player.
We were able to witness the start of a new reign of terror today in the form of Bayern Munich. I haven’t seen Germans that scary since… They attacked a vulnerable Barcelona and made them pay for their mistakes. All kudos to Jupp Heynckes and all of the players at Bayern for putting on a wonderful show. This semifinal seems over after the first leg, I just can’t see that Barcelona team overcoming a four goal deficit against the most dangerous Bayern team that I’ve seen in years. So from the western location of BMD HQ I bid you all adieu!
Until next time, I’ll leave you with a few random thoughts from the match: 1. Sergio Busquets is a twat. 2. The Mavs should sign Thomas Müller. Did you see the pick he set for Arjen Robben?! 3. Sergio Busquets is a massive twat.
Joey McCune (Jose McCunho) @jtmccune on twitter (follow por favor)
P.S. Happy St. George’s Day to all my English friends. You have been family to me and made me feel like an honorary Manc. Cheers boys!!