Hardly any sprints and dribblings, no shots on goal – lionel messi at times stomped around the pitch like a walker. The world footballer, who usually frightens his opponents’ defenses, was only a shadow of his former self in FC barcelona’s 0:4 defeat in munich.
"What happened is a disgrace," the argentinean admitted after the champions league semifinal first leg. "Bayern were much stronger than us and physically superior to us."
Messi was declared fit by doctors just hours before kickoff. "He started with the starting eleven, but he didn’t play", observed the newspaper "el pais". Messi covered three kilometers less during the game than the bayern-cracks arjen robben and franck ribery. Why tito vilanova loved to play the striker through 90 minutes, although the argentinian dragged himself across the pitch after his muscle injury, probably only the barca coach knows. "We didn’t know what substitutions to make," admitted co-coach jordi roura.
Apart from messi, the entire barca team looked drained and bereft of ideas. The defeat in munich awakened bitter memories of the 0:4 embarrassment in the 1994 european cup final against AC milan for the catalans. The defeat in athens meant the end of coach johan cruyff’s "dream team" back then. The 0:4 of munchen now also seems to mark the end of an era, according to spanish commentators. "The barca team has used itself up and completely fallen apart," says "el pais". "Bayern, bursting with strength, are on the opposite path to the top."
FC barcelona had been considered the mab of all things in europe’s soccer world in recent years, winning the champions league in 2006, 2009 and 2011. "This rough barca now belongs to the memory," lamented the newspaper "el periodico". "Now we have to rebuild. The leaders of the club must realize that their team is no longer the leader in europe. "Alfredo relano, editor-in-chief of the sports paper "as", sees it similarly: "the pack means the end of an ara. Barca not only lost 0:4, but also lost confidence in its undisputed strength."
Messi’s perplexed looks radiated little hope for a miracle in the return game. "Bayern are very strong, but we’ll try," the argentinean tried to use perseverance slogans. "Making up for a 0:4 will be very difficult." Captain xavi loved even resignation: "we will try to perform a miracle, but it will be virtually impossible."Former barca pro gary lineker joked on twitter, alluding to the future bayern coach: "only one of the two teams needs a guardiola, and that’s not bayern munchen."
The 0:4 was one of the highest defeats of the catalans in the european cup. No club has ever come back from such a deficit in a champions league semifinal before. FC bayern was so clearly superior to the blue-reds in all respects on tuesday evening that the catalans did not even try to attribute their debacle to incorrect decisions by referee viktor kassai.
"I won’t say a word about the referee," xavi stressed. "The bavarians were better, and we have to accept that."Co-coach roura said: "some hits were not correct, but that was irrelevant for the result."
According to the sports paper "el mundo deportivo", only the last of the four goals scored by the munich team was scored properly. The 1:0 was preceded by a foul on barca defender dani alves; at 2:0, the protector mario gomez was offside and at 3:0, jordi alba was suspended, writes the newspaper published in barcelona. She admitted, however, that the hungarian referee had denied FC bayern two handball penalties.