They might not win the Champions League eventually, but there’s no doubt as to who is the new best team in Europe, the new golden standard for excellence. Bayern Munich, with goals from Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and one own goal from Gerard Pique humiliated Barcelona 3-0 in the Camp Nou and 7-0 after both semifinal legs, leaving Lionel Messi, who didn’t play, to chew his nails and miss out on the festivities.
Barcelona didn’t create one single chance that made Bayern feel at risk. Manuel Neuer started seeing balls coming his way, without his defenders actually blocking shots coming from mostly David Villa, after Bayern were already thinking about the kind of beer they’ll be drinking once they get back home to Munich and celebrate.
It wasn’t the same constant pressure as in the same leg, but the speed and the counter attacking abilities of Bayern Munich, which began with more perfect midfield defending from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez allowed Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to find themselves so free on the wings time after time. That led to all three goals – the first coming from some brilliant individual skill as Robben left Adriano looking for him; the second off a bad touch from Gerard Pique and the third was another cross from the left, this time connecting with Thomas Muller and his head.
A new era? Too soon to tell, because a final at Wembley against Borussia Dortmund is going to be tougher than anything Bayern have faced this season, against a team that knows them all too well and has a dressing rehearsal against them very soon.
As for Barcelona, this signaled the end of something. They’ll still be Spanish champions, but the concept that worked so well from 2009 to 2012 against almost every opponent crashed and burned this season against the really big opponents – semifinalists and Real Madrid. It’s time to weed out those who don’t fit, and start focusing on improving the defense, and maybe some change in philosophy, which for the first time in a quite a long time simply looks outdated, weak, and worst of all, on the losing side.