FCB: Planning for Wembley

When the great evening in the Champions League was over, the players and officials of FC Bayern Munich found it hard to grasp the master-class result. The Bavarians had defeated FC Barcelona 4-0 (1-0) in the first leg of the semi-final of the European “King’s Class”. Seventeen days after the club had ascertained their 23rd German championship title and one week after reaching the national DFB Cup final for the 19th time, FC Bayern took a giant step towards London. The Bavarians can start planning for their participation in the final at Wembley on May 25. “It would be arrogant if we really did that. We will travel to the second leg with some humility, although we know that we have created the best opportunity with this great success”, said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the Board of the club.

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Thomas Muller, Franck Ribéry and Mario Gomez (from right) celebrate a goal for FC Bayern Munich during the 4-0 win over FC Barcelona. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


“We beat the best team in the world”, Rummenigge rejoiced. “That’s crazy and hardly to be believed. Barca have dominated in Europe over the past years, and then we win 4-0. We have fought together and defended together. That was the key to this fantastic victory”, said a jubilant Arjen Robben, who scored the third goal against the Spaniards (73rd min). Brilliantly performing Thomas Muller netted twice (25th, 82nd), Mario Gomez once (49th), cheered on by 68,000 spectators at the Allianz Arena. Robben and many other Bayern players also thought of the club’s president. “This victory was also for him”, Robben said. One of the best matches ever in the club’s history temporarily diverted the attention away from the controversy around Uli Hoeness that had made headlines over the weekend. The German media had dealt with the tax dodging scandal surrounding the 61-year-old not only on the sports pages, but also on the political and economic pages since Saturday. However, that didn’t prevent tough cookie Hoeness from watching the great success in the stands and to express his joy at every goal.

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Lionel Messi (2nd from left) appeared unfit and often faced multi-tackles from several Bavarians, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry and Dante (from right). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Goetze will be Guardiola’s new Messi

“That was just the job half done. Next week we must play exactly like that again“, warned captain Philip Lahm, stressing there could be no let-up in the second leg. Serious thoughts as to whether their opponents in the final will be Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund were not allowed at FC Bayern. Prior to the match a transfer sensation became public -- German international Mario Goetze will move from Dortmund to Munich on July 1. The 20-year-old is worth 37 million Euros for the Bavarians. The little whirlwind is seen by many as the new Messi for future Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. He will also begin his job on July 1 after a sabbatical year since leaving FC Barcelona, where he enjoyed a distinguished coaching career with many titles. Guardiola watched on TV, as did millions of other fans, as his old Messi, Lionel or often Leo, produced a rare weak performance. It had been very much in question whether the four-time World Footballer would play due to an injury.

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Tito Vilanova, FC Barcelona’s coach, experienced his heaviest defeat since taking over the team from Pep Guardiola in the summer 2012. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

On the pitch the 25-year-old Argentine attacker appeared to be not fully fit and never got into the match. “The Bavarians have thrashed us. They were faster, stronger and played better football. They dominated us. It will be almost impossible to turn the tie around”, said Barca defender Gerard Piqué. Head coach “Tito” Vilanova, the former Guardiola assistant, assessed his team’s disaster very calmly, but with sad eyes in the coaching zone. At home Barcelona are invulnerable and will win the 2013 title by a wide margin from Real Madrid. Vilanova has not yet fully recovered from a cancer operation, has to take quite long rest periods, and can’t coach the team in training. The 44-year-old did not come to the press conference after the match but sent Jordi Roura, Barcelona’s assistant coach. “Bayern were better, they played brilliantly, but the referee wasn’t good. We have been unlucky with the referees in this season’s Champions League. Some goals against us were given which shouldn’t have counted”, said Roura.

For Bayern’s second goal Gomez was probably offside, while with the third goal Muller blocked Jordi Alba so that Robben had a clear shot. But on the other hand the Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai failed to give penalties for the Germans after two handballs by Catalan players in the penalty box during the first half. At the end it was the highest defeat in the European Cup for Barca for 16 years. Then the club lost 4-0 to Dynamo Kiev. The four-time Champions League champions have never conceded more goals. “Barcelona's crushing blow at Bayern feels like a changing of the guard”, read the headline in the English newspaper “The Guardian”. “The defeat in Munich may signal the end of an era and the Bavarians are well placed to step into the Catalan club's shoes”, the renowned paper wrote. Until the second leg in Spain, FC Bayern want to continue their record hunt in the Bundesliga, at home against SC Freiburg. Barcelona have to travel again and will also play on Saturday (April 27), for the last time at the old San Mames Stadium of Athletic Bilbao, a former club of Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

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Thomas Muller (centre) scores to make it 4-0 for FC Bayern against Barcelona. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes (right) is powerless. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)