Pep Guardiola’s tactical approach was extremely brave on his emotional return to the Nou Camp, Pep refused to park the bus against his beloved Barcelona and instead went toe to toe with the Catalan giants. In the opening stages, Bayern went with a man to man defensive approach against the best forward line in world football. The signs were ominous for Bayern in the early stages as their ambitious game plan was in danger of being undone, Manuel Neuer produced a flurry of great saves to keep the likes of Luis Suarez at bay. Guardiola understood that his ludicrous game plan was unfolding beneath his eyes, the former Barcelona man switched to a more conventional back four in an attempt to steady the ever growing Barcelona tide. Bayern were on the end of a constant barrage of Barcelona attacks, at 0-0 Robert Lewandowski failed to connect to a Thomas Muller cross which would of provided the Germans a crucial away goal. With fifteen minutes remaining, an ageing Bayern finally succumbed to Barcelona’s relentless pressure. Lionel Messi took centre stage and lived up to the unstoppable tag that his former manager labelled him as. Manuel Neuer simply couldn’t handle Messi’s power for Barcelona’s first goal. Barcelona’s second was all about Messi’s genius and wizardry, simply bamboozling Jerome Boateng. The Bayern centre half seemed perplexed by the Argentine’s dribbling and simply caved to the canvas in a surrendering manner. Manuel Neuer looked to rescue Bayern once again but Messi gracefully chipped the ball over the imposing German to send shockwaves around the world of football once again. Bayern went in search for an elusive away goal but were caught in the closing stages, Neymar latched onto an inch perfect Messi through ball and sent the Barcelona faithful into raptures after nutmeging the German Number one and giving Barcelona an unassailable 3-0 advantage ahead of the return leg in the Allianz Arena. After a pulsating encounter which captivated the world of football, here are some talking points from the blockbuster clash:
Barcelona’s front three are unplayable
Opposition defenders are currently quaking in their boots when facing Barcelona’s star studied forward line. Questions were initially raised, could Messi, Suarez and Neymar but their egos aside and become a formidable trio. After Suarez’s initial struggles, the Uruguayan has become a vital piece of Enrique’s jigsaw. Neymar has bounced back after a tough World Cup and has continued to elevate his game. The presence of Neymar and Suarez is allowing Messi the time and space to torment opponents once again. Barcelona’s forward line have already conjured up over 100 goals between them. Barcelona are currently chasing the treble and with their forwards looking in imperious form, Enrique will fancy his chances of replicating Guardiola’s treble success.
Guardiola hasn’t taken Bayern forward
After taking over from Jupp Heynckes, Guardiola had the luxury of taking over a team that had swept all beside them and won an unprecedented Treble. Since taking over, Bayern have continued to win the Bundesliga at a canter under Guardiola. However, in Europe, Bayern have been found wanting, Bayern were obliterated by Real Madrid’s pace on the counter last year and crashed out of the competition 5-0 on aggregate. Guardiola has introduced a more intricate passing game to the Germans, Guardiola has one year left to run on his contract and the pressure will continue to crank up on the Spaniard if the German Champions suffer another humiliating defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for Guardiola, due to lack of competition domestically the pressure to succeed in the Champions League level becomes an obsession for the German giants.
Bayern missed their stars
Bayern still managed to field a star studied line up but the absence of star trio David Alaba, Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben wounded them significantly. With mercurial pair, Ribery and Robben absent, Bayern lacked that fear factor on the counter attack. Robben and Ribery thrive on the big stage and both played a prominent role in decimating Barcelona two years ago. The loss of David Alaba was also a bitter pill to swallow for Guardiola, the Austrian international has become a household name in Pep’s side. With Ribery and Robben ruled out, Bayern lacked pace when going forward. Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski were the spearhead of Bayern’s attack but the pair didn’t get the usual service from the wide areas with the influential trio only being onlookers. Bayern have to look long term, with the likes of Robben and Ribery coming into their twilight days, summer investment will have to be done in order to inject some youth into an ageing squad.
Barcelona need to tie Dani Alves down
Dani Alves rolled back the years and produced an all-conquering display at right back. The world of football is well aware of the Brazilians attacking attributes but it was Alves’s defensive discipline which also earned him the plaudits. With the Brazilians contract at the Nou Camp expiring in the summer, Barcelona will be eager to tie down the former Sevilla man to a long term deal. Barcelona are currently under a transfer embargo, with Alves’s contract running down, Barcelona may have to buckle and give into the Brazilians demands with the Catalan giants unable to sign players until January 2016. If Alves’s contract situation doesn’t get resolved then a host of elite European clubs will be on red alert to secure the right back’s services. It had been reported that Alves may have been in decline but his display against Bayern indicates that the Brazilian still thrives on the big stage.
El Classico Final?
The thought off an El Classico final will quench the taste of many football fans, the prospect of another Messi v Ronaldo showdown in Berlin would be an eagerly anticipated clash. Bayern Munich and Juventus will do their utmost to upset the potential clash between the best players in the world. Messi and Ronaldo haven’t faced each other in the Champions League final since Barcelona beat Manchester United in Rome back in 2009 in what proved to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last game for the Red Devils. With the Semi-Final return legs on the horizon, its Real Madrid who have to overcome the sterner test. Barcelona are still competing on three different fronts, for Real Madrid the Champions League is their only realistic remaining hope of success. Another Messi v Ronaldo episode on 6th June would be a fitting finale to the football season in what’s been another sensational season by the legendary pair.