Champions League – Barcelona pass Bayern to the Final
It seemed as soon as the whistle blew for kick off, that Barcelona were looking to add to their tally, rather than just counter the Bayern Munich onslaught. It only took them until the fourth minute to carve out a chance, a deep run from Ivan Rakitic who was found by a quality ball over the top from Messi, saw the midfielder free in the box, before testing Maneul Neuer on the half-volley. It was Bayern Munich who would make the first breakthrough only two minutes after Rakitic spurned his chance at goal. A Bayern corner was put lofted deep into the box, before Medhi Benatia left unmarked powered a precise header past a helpless Ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal.
Game on we all thought, time for Bayern to really turn the screw. It was all far too short lived and Barcelona grasped the game cruelly away from Bayern in the 14th minute. Lionel Messi was the orchestrater once more for the Catalans, sliding a ball through a seven-man defensive wall. Luis Suarez looked up, before calmly sliding across for an unmarked Neymar to tap home – ensuring the Brazilian has now scored in his seventh consecutive game – as well as all but ending Bayern Munich’s hopes of progressing to the final.
Bayern continued with their attacking gameplan, and it almost came to fruition a few times. Most notably when Thiago Alcantara played Thomas Muller through, leaving him the opportunity to curl the ball into the far corner past Ter Stegen, all he could do was scuff it straight at the Barcelona goalkeeper. If Barcelona’s first goal was cruel, this one, was even worse. Javier Mascherano receive the ball from the ‘keeper, before launching a ball which Lionel ‘one of the smallest players on the pitch’ Messi flicked a header on for Suarez to latch onto and bear down on the Neuer’s goal once more. He crossed for Neymar who was free on the back post, who controlled, before volleying past the German once more at his near post. The shot was hit with power, and cleanly, but, Neuer really should have at least got closer to it.
There were two more chances for Bayern before the halves end; Bastian Schweinsteiger with a diving header which had to be tipped over, and, a piece of absolutely sensational goalkeeping kept Robert Lewandowski in the 39th minute. After a marauding run from former Barcelona man, Thiago Alcantara, his deflected shot fell kindly for Lewandowski just outside the 6 yard box and centre of goal. Ter Stegen, going to his right managed to shift back towards the left of goal and get finger tips on the shot, before the ball trickled towards the goal-line, only for the keeper to scramble up and tip it out of the goal-mouth. World class goalkeeeping.
HT 1-2 (1-5 aggregate)
The second half didn’t quite live up to the tempo of the first half, perhaps as the Barcelona work-horse up top – Suarez – was substituted at half time for Pedro. In the 58th minute, Bayern looked like they were certain to press on and really push Barcelona all the way. Lewandowski received the ball shimmied the ball onto his right foot, before curling an exquisite shot into the corner. 2-2 on the night. Bayern had the wind in their sails. Muller went close sohim,on after in the 62nd, swiveling in a crowded box he could only toe punt the ball a yard or two wide. However, Muller rectified this 10 minutes later, when Bastian Schweinsteiger laid the ball back to him on the edge of the box before he rifled the ball into the back of the net. 3-2 on the night with 15 to go, could they do it?
In a word, no, there was no fairytale ending for Bayern. It was actually Barcelona who almost had the last laugh though, Neymar was played through in the 92nd minute, before rounding the last defender, he was certain to clinch his hat-trick…however, he selflessly chose to play it across the box, but the oncoming Messi just couldn’t keep up with the play to slot home.
Barcelona progress through to this years final, but, will it be an all Spanish tie or can Juventus push home their advantage when they face Real Madrid tomorrow?