Eat, Pray, Support

Here is a Bayern preview courtesy of Peter, who often holds forth in the comments, section. I couldn’t have said it better, myself.

“The pitch is very, very wet in places, particularly in the centre circle. There’s been no rain in Munich all day, just an over-zealous groundsman with a new sprinkler to play with. Pedro is the latest, but not the last, to slide over.”
“Could Bayern have over-watered their pitch to obstruct Barca’s passing game?”
“This pitch is very very splashy. Cheeky Germans.”
“The pitch at the Allianz Arena has been perfectly prepared for a water-polo match.”
“On a pitch that showed signs of being heavily watered…”
BBC Live commentary and report,
2012-13 Champions League semi-final,
23.04.2013 Allianz Arena, Munchen.

I’ve often wondered why we culers are such a pessimistic bunch overall. Maybe it’s because of some superstition that whenever we aren’t our humble selves but instead voice our jubilation and certainty of victory the way other fans tend to do, some sort of capricious deity clad in boots and shorts slaps us down to show us the error of our ways. Maybe it’s because we realize that victory, draw and defeat are all sides of the same coin, that in the grand ledger of history you can draw and lose, lose and win, draw and win, win and win or even win the encounter, but lose overall. Some victories are exacted at such a price as to render further triumphs impossible. Maybe we know that whatever goes around, comes around.

Two years ago, on a pitch deliberately converted to a swimming pool, facing a group of injured and exhausted players led by a manager who was fighting his (eventually lost) battle against disease, Bayern defeated Barcelona. Helped by a lenient ref, who overlooked Barça players being kicked into submission, who overlooked fouls and offsides, Bayern inflicted the most terrible defeat on Barça. It was humiliation, a stomping on the fallen, a merciless and pitiless one-sided encounter. And Europe cheered. Europe cheered and applauded, because the hated Catalan team was finally brought down in a convincing way. The wounded pride of English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch champions was finally avenged, finally the hated “UEFAlona” was beaten to a pulp. And even if it was by the feet of another, that proxy victory tasted sweet.

Two years later, this defeat remains as a bitter memory, a shackle that seems to belittle every success, magnify every adversity, a scarecrow and bogeyman to frighten culers when they get too uppity. The size of that elimination, like the number of “200-proof penalties” that Ovrebo didn’t give against Barça, has grown exponentially and blown up like a balloon during those two years, to the extent that there are people who watched the match and swear that Barcelona lost the away leg 7-0. We cannot forget, and even if we did, ill-wishers basking in the misery would conveniently remind us. It became for many the ultimate sneer, the best riposte. Don’t get too uppity cule, lest you get another deserved beating. Favourite Barcelonista soft drink, the “Seven Up”. “You had your 15 minutes of glory, now put on that pointy hat, go stand in the corner and be ashamed of yourself.”

And in a leap of misguided objectivity or sheer blindness of which I too was part, many of us embraced the hostile narrative that labeled the season a failure based on that single result. It didn’t matter that La Liga was won with a record-setting points total, distance to the second-placed team and goals by a single player. It didn’t matter that Barcelona had set such a tempo that after just four months of competition the “Special” coach of the greatest rival said “La Liga is lost.” This is the reason, for the most part, why the best player in the world did not get the recognition he deserved and instead the title went to the guy who scored four against Sweden.

That season didn’t become the season of “La Remuntada”, when Barça completed a feat statistically impossible in the Champions League. That season should’ve been the final legacy of the man whose name the training pitch of the first team bears. And we forgot that. We became entitled, expecting and demanding not just titles, but trounces. Our pride and bragging rights were censured.

It was even more difficult last season, but in a way I think and hope, it was an act of exorcism. La Liga was lost at Camp Nou by the same thuggish, relentless team that stopped Barça in the quarter-finals, and Camp Nou had to applaud them. We had to shed our pride and entitlement, like a sweaty shirt that feels uncomfortable. We drank the bitter cup of defeat but I think and I hope, even though the entorno and the weekly crises constantly try to prove me wrong, that we learned not that we should be ashamed of ourselves, but that we should learn to appreciate the taste of victory and never take it for granted.

So we come to this. Fate, whim of the football gods, Providence, Destiny, I don’t know, but there are so many threads, so many histories intertwined together in this semi-final. When you check the stats, Bayern and Barça right now cannot be any more equal, even getting down to the general coloring of the shirts, abbreviations, possession … Both teams have Germans, Spanish, and Braziliian players. Both teams play attacking football, both like building from the back and there is extensive usage of flanks and bombing fullbacks, players playing or being capable of playing in more than one position, a defensive midfielder playing as a CB, a ball-carrying DM who drops back between CBs to receive and bring the ball forward, wide CBs. The list can go on. In a way, Bayern is like a distorted mirror of Barcelona.

This is where the similarities end, however – Bayern’s coach is considered innovative, an artist constantly looking for the next great idea, for the next way to squeeze talent from a group of VERY talented players. His schemes have been as varied as his lineups. If you check encounters from this season, Bayern have employed six different schemes in the Champions League and ten (TEN!!!) schemes in Bundesliga. Luis Enrique, on the other hand, has generally stuck to a 4-3-3, and whenever he didn’t, fans and media saw it as a mark of being clueless.

Bayern operate with a very high line, keeping the players in one single block, which facilitates both passing and pressing. Skillful passers are vital, because they mean penetration. A difficult or bold pass can catch the opposing defense napping and that destabilizing first pass opens other lanes as the opponent scrambles for a response. That single joined block of lines also means that the team can defend together by passing the ball and keeping it away from the opponent. This system is not without deficiencies, of course.

As we very well know by now after watching countless matches in which the opponent drops back and forms another block that rejects possession of the ball, while the ball is passed around, that system has its deficiencies. It needs alternatives and modifications. In Guardiola’s case those are not modifications, but perhaps refusing to be bound by the system if that would mean not using the full potential of the players. What am I talking about? Aerial play.

Bayern have more than their fair share of tall, physical players. There are 11 outfield players of Bayern who are six feet (1.83m) or taller and four who are 1.9m or taller. In Barça that count is six and two, respectively. What this means when facing Bayern is that they can create lots of danger in the box and that even the presence of tall players can mean that a shorter player can ghost in unmarked and score (Thiago’s first goal was from such a header).

Bayern’s height also allows them to create second-ball danger, claiming a cross or a lobbed ball, which lets them direct it towards where a waiting striker will be. For Boateng’s goal against Porto, Lahm took a very short corner (less than a meter) to Thiago, who launched the ball on a very steep trajectory, landing it precisely on jumping Badstuber’s head to be guided to where Boateng was going to rise. The scheme involved change of direction and took ruthless advantage of Bayern’s height. This is more visible in the Champions League, where Bayern has scored six headers from 30 goals, whereas in Bundesliga that count is 11 from 77. Lewandowski has scored two, Boateng, Thiago, Rode and Badstuber have scored one each – and apart from Thiago they are all defenders.

As said earlier, Bayern rely on flank play a lot, utilizing Ribery and Robben, but also Lahm, Bernat, Rafinha and the young player Weiser. Against Porto, who lacked their starting fullbacks and were using a CB and backup players, Bayern had full control of the flanks and created lots of danger from that area. Their game was meticulously prepared and created space by misdirection and switch of direction of the play. For Thiago’s goal Gotze brought the ball to the goal line, then brought it back and left it for Bernat while he moved back, confusing the Porto defenders. The result was that three Porto players were around Gotze, not knowing which player they were to mark and marking neither, while the CBs of Porto were focused by the ball movement and not marking Thiago, who ghosted between the two from behind their back.

The result was that the two key players in that play, Bernat and Thiago, were left completely free to act. The second goal, as said, resulted from height advantage and switch of play, the ball going left towards the far post, then right towards the near, where Boateng waited. Porto left space on the flanks, and Bayern exploited it with Lahm, who mostly unopposed started launching crosses. Players getting the ball in the center switched it immediately towards the wings, from where it could be returned.

Bayern also employ quite a lot of cutbacks, which is another form of switch of direction. Basically the wide attacker races towards the goal line, then cuts back towards the zone in front of goal. False runs on the far post drag defenders, which means that when the cutback comes, there is often a free striker coming from the second line to receive that pass and shoot unopposed. Those penetrations are more successful with Robben and Ribery, but with Lahm, Gotze, Rafinha and Bernat Bayern have lots of backup potential.

However, those are schemes designed to overload a stubborn opponent. The usual way in which Bayern overcome opponents is by fast-paced pass and movement, the positional play, juego de posición for which Pep’s Barça was known. Against Barça I believe that Bayern will try to use another Pep tactic, pressing, asphyxiating pressing of the midfield to force turnovers and probably take advantage of space in Barça’s half. It may require numerical superiority in midfield, because apart from contesting the ball, Bayern will need to shut down the channels left and right, where the trios Alba-Iniesta-Neymar and Alves-Rakitic-Messi operate.

How can Bayern be defeated then? One weakness of the high line and solid block is that it leaves lots of space behind the defense. On occasion Bayern has played so high, that there is no way to set up an offside trap. When Wolfsburg defeated Bayern 4-1, it was through counters, and for one of those goals the Bayern defense was ten meters in the Wolfsburg half, which meant that when De Bruyne got the ball almost at the centerline, he was on side and was uncatchable. Another way, which Porto showed, is through pressure to create forced errors and turnovers against Bayern defenders. For that to happen the whole team has to defend and press, so that there are few passing options and the ball-carrier can be attacked from multiple directions. This is one reason why Barça’s defenders need to be proficient with the ball, so that they can pass under pressure and build up from the back. This is also why Pep is using Javi Martinez as a CB whenever he can.

A key thing to consider will be stamina. If either or both teams decide to press, they will need rested legs. In that aspect Bayern have it a bit more difficult overall. Since last international break the missing starters meant that Guardiola had to employ often the same players in different positions. The German Cup matches against Bayer and Borussia were both decided after penalties, which meant additional minutes and fatigue accumulated.

Lahm has played 669 minutes including the full game vs Dortmund, but he was rested against Bayer on Saturday. Bernat has played 645 minutes, including 120 vs Dortmund and 120 vs Bayer, and he rested against Bayer. Rafinha has played 760 (120 Dortmund and 120 Bayer), Dante 660, Boateng 642 and Benatia 272. From the midfielders Xabi has played 584 including the two full 120 matches, Thiago has played 473 minutes after coming back from his long injury, Schweinsteiger 312, Gotze 654 and Muller 702 minutes. Lewandowski has played more than anybody else, 780 minutes. Pep Guardiola rested all his undisputed starters against Bayer in the weekend, and that may give us a clue as to who will play today. Boateng, Bernat, Alonso, Lewandowski and Muller all missed the game, whereas Benatia and Thiago were subbed in for Javi Martinez and Lahm after just over an hour.

In comparison, Luis Enrique’s fitness and rotation regimen lets Barça come in the game with a bit fresher legs both in terms since International break and overall. From the players who aren’t Messi, Neymar and Suarez, Alves has played the most, 672 minutes. Alba has 414, Pique 630, Masche 510 and Bartra 180. Mathieu was discarded from the squad due to Achilles tendon discomfort, but were he available, he would’ve played with 430 minutes in his legs. In midfield the situation is eye-raising. Only Busquets has more than 500 minutes, 640. Rakitic has 450, Xavi 390, Iniesta 408. It is only in attack where Bayern are fresher, with Messi having played 810 minutes, Neymar 794 and Suarez 757. Furthermore, the whole of the “Gala XI” played a full game in the scorching heat of Cordoba. That could’ve caused fatigue, even though in the second half of that game, as in quite a few before, Barça lowered the tempo and emulated Messi, walking mostly, with a few jogs and the occasional sprint when it was necessary.

Before I give you my lineup, we should remember that the match is 180 minutes, Bayern have nothing else to play for, and Guardiola plays much better at home – this season Bayern drew 0-0 against Shakhtar before winning 7-0 at home, lost 1-3 away to Porto before they defeated them 6-1 at Allianz Arena. A lot would depend on the form of the players, but I believe Pep will still come out with his best eleven. Javi Martinez has played a single 63-minute game, but at the same time he was the undisputed starter for Guardiola. Guardiola will need a mobile defence capable of playing the ball and bringing it forward, and for that both Alonso and Martinez would be great. I also believe that Lahm may return to the RB spot with Thiago or Weiser in front of him. The midfield in this case would consist of Thiago, Muller, Scweinsteiger and Gotze, not necessarily in that order. Thiago and Gotze would be providing both creativity and stamina in a midfield that needs to block the trios Alba-Iniesta-Neymar on the left and Alves-Rakitic-Messi on the right. Javi Martinez in defence would provide the ball-carrier that is Alonso currently, letting Alonso the task of marking and pressing Busquets and the rest of the Barça midfielders.

Possible lineup: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Javi Martinez, Bernat; Alonso; Thiago, Muller, Schweinsteiger, Gotze; Lewandowski.

Now that I have bored you to tears, if you have even managed to reach the end of this post, there is something I’d like to share, which may piss off a lot of you, and something to ask you.

Sport fans sometimes are illogical. Espanyol fans stand up and applaud as rival player Iniesta is being substituted, then boo and whistle as the greatest Spanish (Espanyol, geddit? 😀 ) midfielder walks on the pitch. As I typed this, Bayern’s coach, who as if by some cruel joke of fate looked exactly like a slightly aged Barça Legend Pep Guardiola, was in the press room of FC Barcelona explaining in accentless Catalan that Bayern will have to wrestle possession from Barça. He wants to win.

The Bayern midfielder bearing the name of Xavi’s heir-apparent Thiago Alcantara, he’s coming to win. They are the coach and player of Barça’s rival, men who will do their utmost to defeat Barça. They will not step on the Camp Nou pitch to give hugs, but to try and direct that defeat. Pep Guardiola is the great Barcelona coach that brought us lots of joy. He is to be respected for his Barça legacy. But that Pep Guardiola lives outside the walls of Camp Nou, outside the invisible walls marked by white lines, that separate two worlds – the football world and the outside world. On the green carpet inside, Pep Guardiola is not present. Instead, there is the heir of Jupp Heynckes, who was coach of Bayern back in 2012-13. Thiago is not present, there is the successor of Kroos. In the football world on that green carpet, those two are to be defeated.

Today is the 6th of May. In my distant land of Bulgaria today is the day of St. George. In Catalunya he is known as St. Jordi and his symbol, the red cross on white field is on the shield of Barça. Six years ago on this day Iniesta scored in added time against Chelsea.

So, my culer brothers and sisters, eat, eat a hearty meal because we will need the energy required. Do your pre-game rituals as you always do. Don the shirts and the shawls and the hats. Prepare the flags, so that you can be recognized.

Pray, pray with all your hearts like the countless culers who have probably visited Les Corts to pray for victory.
But above all …

Support. Support as you have never before, support our team till your great voices go hoarse. Support not just for yourselves, but for those who are no longer with us. It’s time.

Here we go.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

74 Comments

  1. Jafri
    May 6, 2015

    Win or lose, it’s time to leave it all on the pitch.

    Hold nothing back.

  2. georgjorge
    May 6, 2015

    Thanks for this great article. It makes Bayern look a rather formidable opponent, though I guess we won’t have anything to fear if the tie goes to penalties.

    In theory, I agree that them playing a high back line would lead to MSN scoring lots of goals, but for some reason it seems to me as if our forwards are a lot better at creating goals against dense defenses than at scoring from counterattacks where they might even have numerical superiority. They seem to score where it’s the most difficult and waste chances which many less talented forwards would convert (luckily, more often than not it seems to be difficult 😉 ).

    Can’t wait for the game to start!

  3. oddsbodiSkins
    May 6, 2015

    If someone did not have goosebumps about the match till now, this article should raise their heartbeat.

    Wonderfully written, I haven’t eaten or slept properly since yesterday because of the anxiety.

    Hope to give it all on the pitch. And yeah, Visca Barca 🙂

  4. kosby
    May 6, 2015

    Awesome article. I am tense, nervous, anxious, cant wait till the match starts…its like a 90 minute penalty shootout.

    “On the green carpet inside, Pep Guardiola is not present. Instead, there is the heir of Jupp Heynckes, who was coach of Bayern back in 2012-13. Thiago is not present, there is the successor of Kroos.”

    Everyone has a different point of view. For me it IS very much Guardiola that is coming to beat us, and it IS very much Thiago thats coming to beat us. Those two that left us seeking greener pastures. Coming back to beat us. US. I want their asses handed out to them today at the very least. This is Barca.

    • kosby
      May 6, 2015

      And once the match is won, I’d be the first one to get nostalgic about Pep 🙂

  5. even more Stradivariuser
    May 6, 2015

    Beautiful post, Peter. Thank you. Swinging from (recent) historical perspective and the culer experience to tactics and back again, I love it.

    It’s been said before but this FCB-FCB tie FEELS different. This team is brimming with confidence, swagger, aggression, not limping over the line after being physically and mentally beaten up. This time I’m NOT afraid (deep-down where I don’t want to admit it) that Bayern are superior; that maybe they’ve welded technique to pace and power, that we will be out-played or out-fought, that football has moved on. No, this team, our team, has the tools and the attitude to beat anybody, I know it. Now, this is sport and we are just one goofy Mueller shin shot away goal from the tie swinging to their advantage. But this side won’t collapse or hang their heads if Bayern get a fluke goal or Ney misses an empty net. And we will create chances. So, I feel good about this one and you better believe that I will support with every shred of my being and every blaugrana item in my closet, come what may!

  6. May 6, 2015

    Nothing beats the excitement of CL Semi’s. I’m glad we are in that Top 4. Totally nervous about the match. Will the crowd chant Enrique’s name today?

  7. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    Ok, we’re nearly at game time. What does Pep do ? He knows Messi can kill him and will be in the mood. I suspect he’s not nearly as worried about anyone else. Rational response ? He puts a man marker on Messi. Someone with pace and tells him to forget about the game but if Messi gets away from him he’s toast. That could work. Only player of ours I’ve seen man marked in the last few years was Xavi and it was hard for him to get away from it.
    Second thought, where is our biggest weakness. Well, no surprise that it’s our midfield. Does he swamp the midfield and rather look to cut out the supply to our front three ( who to be fair, are not great at running onto long balls) ? That would be my bet. If that is the case our midfield could have a torrid time. There’s no point in saying they can just get the ball forward quickly – that can’t happen without decent possession.

    On the other hand, our front three just need a sniff of the ball and they can put the game beyond Pep.

    Hopes – Rakitic for the first time is probably going to have to play a part in a passing game under the most severe scrutiny. I hope he can. Masche is gonna have to have a big game. He needs to stay put and watch Pique’s line. He still has a habit of playing opponents on and raving out to put out fires that are none of his business. However, if he can stay disciplined and at home he can have a big part to play in this game. He has done much better recently but I worry about his instincts. If there is a cross ball get an elbow at least into your man’s ribs to put him off.
    Messi is gonna have to resist getting sucked into a swamped midfield too early. And I reckon Xavi will be on at half time.

    Season defining moment, guys. For all sorts of reasons, not least Pep and Thiago, we need to stick it to them. Lose and the league might go with it. Win and this can become a great Barca side.

    • ciaran
      May 6, 2015

      You seem nervous Jim. Figuring out how to stop our team is something that very few have managed and I don’t see this Bayern team as better man-for-man as us.
      Still, matches like this one are decided by little details and while I wouldn’t be surprised by a high scoring game it is still not what I expect.

    • Jim
      May 6, 2015

      Too right I’m nervous, Ciaran. This is a top side. We don’t play really well or get our tactics wrong, we’re going out and if we go out this is no better than Tata’s side which has been roundly ( but not by me) condemned. It’s that important.

      Those matches, despite the pitch, injuries etc which were all important, still sits somewhere at the back of my brain and needs to be exercised, now … We got no breaks in either match and could do with one or two tonight. Btw, who’s the ref? Tell me he’s not English.

    • Jim
      May 6, 2015

      Exorcised !

    • ciaran
      May 6, 2015

      Atkinson was shocking last night.

      Well, if things go well we have the ability to end the tie tonight. I think that is a major difference between us and them. Without Robben and Ribery they don’t have the same abilities.

  8. ciaran
    May 6, 2015

    I find it amusing that Pep has decided to play with essentially 7 defensive players along with Thiago, Muller & Lewa. The pragmatism of Lucho doesn’t seem nearly as pragmatic now with our consistent 4-3-3 formations and always starting three strikers.

  9. Dar_vincy
    May 6, 2015

    So… No surprises in the line-up.

    TAS

    Alv-Piq-Mas-Alb

    Rak-Bus-Ini

    Mes-Sua-Ney

    Wasn’t petrified about the set-piece danger from Bayern upon until now. With Bayern’s 11 brobdingnagians capering like a high jump athlete in our box in any set-piece opportunity, we can only hope that part of their theat doesn’t augur well for them.

    Nice preview, Peter.

  10. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    Looking for a really good welcome for Pep which makes him feel bad for leaving …… Then a torrent of boos and totally hostile atmosphere for them when the game starts. Surely even tourists can manage that ?

    • Jim
      May 6, 2015

      I’d also kinda like to see an aggressive captain’s display from Ini. If he can do that he could stir the troops up even more.

  11. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    Warning. If Pique has to go wide Masche has to be back to cover Lew.

  12. ciaran
    May 6, 2015

    That was like a training session, attack versus defense. We were close to opening them up a few times. Still, our front three haven’t gotten many chances.

  13. Rami
    May 6, 2015

    We’re not playing against a midtable la liga team, Our trio should stop trying to do wonder combos near the penalty area, Just shoot the damn ball.
    And yes, Suarez should’ve netted that, No excuse.

  14. 86ed
    May 6, 2015

    You cannot miss three clear opportunities vs Bayern Munich and get away with it. Guardiola basically invited us to score in the first 15 mins and we didn’t.

    • Jim
      May 6, 2015

      To be fair, two at least we’re on target and decent efforts. The keeper made a couple of great stops. It’s what he does. Best chance of the half was theirs.

  15. Archie
    May 6, 2015

    PG thought that 7 (if you count Muller) midfielders would keep Barca from getting the ball to MSN? And other-Rafinha marking Messi? alone? Gary Neville reaction was priceless! After a couple of minutes he mumbled 1-v-1 as if asking a question, then he rubbed his eyes and just tripped out…

    • Archie
      May 6, 2015

      Gary Nevile: We set up like this to train the sixteen year olds to tire them out… (or words to that effect)

  16. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    Stupidity at the start from Pep with his three at the back and we’re unlucky not to be up. Would have liked Suarez to put his boot through that chance but that’s easy to say from my chair. However, that hole in our defence for Lew was worrying.

    He’s now trying to cut off the supply from the mids as we thought and so far it’s having some success as we don’t seem to be able to get good enough possession to make use of the front three. So much for our long ball over the top. You need to get your midfield with their head up long enough to pick a pass. Can they keep this pressing up ? Don’t know but it’s one of the best European ties I’ve seen in ages.

  17. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    We’ve no platform ATM. Forwards are getting starved.

  18. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    He’s just a genius !,!

  19. agar2515
    May 6, 2015

    MY GOD DANI

    MY GODS LEO

  20. May 6, 2015

    It was a long time building up, but the euphoria from that goal and the even more astonishing second goal was well worth it

  21. Jafri
    May 6, 2015

    The dink is back!

  22. agar2515
    May 6, 2015

    GOAT

    • xris
      May 6, 2015

      quote: “what he has done to boateng is almost illegal”

  23. agar2515
    May 6, 2015

    Dani earned a new contract and Rakatic shut up his haters, just brilliant

    • Inamess
      May 6, 2015

      As a Rakitic hater I am shut up.

    • Jim
      May 6, 2015

      Had a good game tonight. No question. As did Alves. Is it just me or has his play improved dramatically since the renewal talks started ? Won’t get many RBs with his skill on the ball that’s for sure.

    • May 6, 2015

      It’s not just that I think. Rather, Alves doesn’t have to run as far, develops better understanding of his new position and better communication with Rakitic. This is why both are getting better, each knows where the other has to be and can focus on his new task. Alves basically becomes one more midfielder on his runs forward, using not only his speed, but also his skill and touch. Shorter runs mean dramatical decrease of fatigue and consequently better focus and decision-making.

      But I still think Rakitic complements him very, very well, which is why they are becoming something more than the sum of their parts.

  24. Inamess
    May 6, 2015

    I want to personally thank Pep’s muse and “moment of epiphany when he finally realized how he was going to win this match”.

    Good luck explaining it in Bavaria!

  25. ciaran
    May 6, 2015

    As I said, we have the ability to win the tie in just one leg, Bayern do not.

    For the purists, we had 47% possession and had 8 shots on target compared to Pep’s Bayern having more possession and no shots on target at all. We can win in many ways under Lucho

  26. Doug
    May 6, 2015

    Messi was incredible. That 2nd goal was amazing.

    Dani Alves was everywhere – it was one of the best games I’ve seen him play. They should extend his contract now.

  27. Davour
    May 6, 2015

    What to say? Tough game, explosions of genius. People can say what they want, but no RB would have filled Dani’s shoes in a game like this. Rak showing his potential; keep going. Screw possession; this was a great show!

  28. LAcule
    May 6, 2015

    fascinating game, euphoric outcome. what a complete, well played game especially defensively. barca are so much more sound at the back this year its a night and day difference. no matter what happens by the end of the season i am so grateful for and proud of this team. they have made watching barca fun again.

  29. kosby
    May 6, 2015

    What. A. Game.

    Messi – what beauty, what class, what a matchwinner.

  30. raj
    May 6, 2015

    I can imagine all the reviewers of barcelona blogs – TotalBarca, Blaugranes and our own Kxevin looking up dictionaries, searching for words to describe Messi today. Good luck with that!

  31. TITO
    May 6, 2015

    That second goal was a foul on Boateng.

    • raj
      May 6, 2015

      It was a red if it was a foul, because it could be the end of a career..

  32. Jim
    May 6, 2015

    What a result. Didn’t see that coming with twenty minutes left. Great gutsy performance from us. Heroes every one. As Ciaran says our defence played a blinder, especially second half when they had us running.

    Not that I do but you almost have to feel sorry for Pep starting to make his plans for the second leg when Leo pops up with those two goals. His second is as good a goal as I’ve ever seen. Not only going two ways in the same move to put the defender on his butt: the dink with his right foot over the best keeper in the world was ……. help me here. How do you even DO that dink at that speed ?

  33. georgjorge
    May 6, 2015

    Thank you Messi, thank you Neymar. Thank you to the whole team that refused to budge when things got hairy, that pressed, passed, ran, tackled, fought and believed in its ability to beat even a team playing as well as Bayern.

    It was a good evening.

  34. untoxgsd
    May 6, 2015

    Yes yes yes!!! No more words to describe the pure genius of Messi. Great game all around tonight. Surely Bayern can’t fight back!!

  35. May 6, 2015

    Guardiola was right. It was and is Messi’s era. Look at the quality in today’s game. There were brilliant footballers on the pitch, but no one remotely comes close to Lionel Messi. It was destined to end 0-0, but Messi didn’t approve it. Messi knew that it was his moment. This time, he didn’t look to pass to Neymar or Suarez. He took matters under his control and scored an absolute goallllllazo by beating Neur at his near post. Messi, Messi roared the Camp Nou. What a moment that was!

    Luis Enrique got his tactics spot on. Guardiola looks pretty naive just like Arsene Wenger. If I was Chairman of Bayern Munich, I would sack him right away. Hate Mourinho all you want, he wins games. At the end that’s what matters. Can we all agree that if you have players like Messi in your team and if you can create proper plan to exploit their skills any decent manager will look great. I think we should. If Pep Guardiola deserves credit for what Messi is today. Enrique deserves it too. Bayern Munich had 0 shots on target. That’s bloody humiliation. Even Cordoba might have had a shot on target. Best defense. Best attack and also for midfield enthusiasts, Iniesta and Rakitic were absolute joy to watch.

    And oh, I for one didn’t miss Thiago even for a second. Rakitic was far better than him. Best day. Can’t wait Kxevin’s match review, Michael Cox’s tactical review and Sid Lowe’s article on ESPN/Guardian.

    Visca Barca.
    P.s: I loved it when Camp Nou chanted Enrique’s name. That guy deserves every fan’s respect

    • G6O
      May 6, 2015

      I would be so quick to blame Guardiola for Bayern’s loss. It was 0-0 with 15 minutes left. had it stayed that way, that would have been a positive result for them. And then the game was decided by combination of cheap loss of possession plus impossible to defend magic from Messi.

      No amount of coaching and tactical genius can compensate for sheer footballing genius. Bayern has the deepest squad in the world but it does not have a genius player. We do and that was the difference

    • G6O
      May 6, 2015

      P.S. Mourinho won against us in 2010 thanks to a wrongfully disallowed goal.

      Then Chelsea won in 2012 following the Mourinho template thanks to Messi hitting the bar from the penalty spot, and a string of other incredible misses.

      That’s not being in control of things thanks to coaching genius and a very well set up bus, that’s just luck.

    • May 6, 2015

      People say about only the disallowed Bojan goal. What about the goals they scored in San Siro. If I remember one of them was clear offside.

    • G6O
      May 7, 2015

      Yes, that too

  36. IamXavi6
    May 6, 2015

    Glad to see my bullish comment from last thread psy off. I predicted 4-1…3-0, even better.

    No way you xould take what happened last time as a indictor. What a game.

    Visca

  37. IamXavi6
    May 6, 2015

    PS after leg 2 assuming we win can we please stop treating pep like some sort of mytgical god manager.

    Pps: great to see lucho gain respect..oh how fickle we are from the #LuchoOut days!

  38. May 6, 2015

    Canal+ ended their broadcast with the image of Messi and Neymar embracing just as the choir of the anthem sang “The Champions”.

  39. luisthebeast
    May 6, 2015

    Thank u Mark!Thank u Dani!Thank u Gerard!Thank u Javier!Thank u Jordi!Thank u Sergio!Thank u Andres!Thank u Ivan!Thank u Ney!Thank u Luis!Thank u Leo!Thank u Mapk!Thank u Xavi!Thank u Raf!And u Lucho……I LOVE U!Visca Barca!

  40. May 6, 2015

    Guardiola is still a brilliant coach and Barça legend. And I hope that Enrique isn’t built up for the same kind of unsustainable pillar as Guardiola.

    • G6O
      May 6, 2015

      I almost feel sorry for him, but not really – he left us when it became clear key players were entering the decline side of their career curve, and then went to Bayern when they were ascendant and stacked with talent. But they won everything just after the decision was made, which meant there was a very slim chance he will win the CL in his first season given that nobody ever repeats,, and then most of their team won the WC, which meant an inevitable decline in performance after that, and on top of that now it was their turn for key members of the squad to start declining. So there’s some irony in the whole thing

      Anyway, what’s important for us is that today’s performance deserves a place among the historic Barca games, we haven’t seen such a game since 2011.

  41. Jamal103
    May 6, 2015

    Rakitic: The Unsung Hero

  42. luisthebeast
    May 6, 2015

    Yep what an impressive perfomance by Ivan!That guy is a machine!And Dani was fantastic!Also Alba,so fast,so good!But for me it was a great team perfomance,the best i have see in a semifinal of CL the last years.And when u are such a good team there is no bad draw or disavandage if u play the first leg home!So happy!

  43. Barcathegreatestever
    May 6, 2015

    At work following the game on ESPN game cast, pretty pathetic lol.

  44. deckardcain
    May 6, 2015

    Does anyone have a link to download the match? I need to watch it again.

  45. Barcathegreatestever
    May 6, 2015

    What a joy celebrated with silent fist pumping!! Completely loving all the remarks celebrating
    my heroes performances. Have to say I was premonicient about Messi going by Boateng. He had had enough and was going in and put it to bed. Also about Neuer keeping it close, as in closer than than 6-0

  46. Shaco
    May 6, 2015

    I really hope we keep Alves. Why would we ever want to get rid of him?

  47. Gogah
    May 6, 2015

    What a first game to go watch live!
    People don’t lose their virginity to Gisele Bundchen!
    I feel blessed to have witnessed that.
    Good vibes abound.
    Hope that Barca go all the way this time.
    They certainly have been the best team in the competition.
    Outscoring world class Opponents.

    This is a dream.

    • Chiu
      May 6, 2015

      Wow, must be one of the best experience of your entire life. A die hard Cules watch Barca in our Camp Nou for the first time in a massive tie like this, vs a great opponent like Bayern, and a great 3-0 win. It must amazing! Congrats pal!

  48. deckardcain
    May 6, 2015

    Haven’t seen anyone mentioning this, but the foul on Suarez before 3-0 is a clear yellow card (if not red), I’m not sure who fouled him. Could have been Schweini. Ref should have booked him at least, don’t know if he did.

    • Jamal103
      May 6, 2015

      Yes I believe that it was Schweinsteger with the ill-timed tackle. I had flashbacks to Ramos’s challenge on Messi during the 5-0 rout. Definitely at least a yellow but I’m glad Rizzoli decided to play advantage instead of stop the play. Sub him for Lahoz in La Liga ANYDAY.

    • deckardcain
      May 7, 2015

      Yes I immediately thought of Ramos’ abuse aswell! Also glad the advantage was given, but a card should have been shown after the goal.

  49. PrinceYuvi
    May 6, 2015

    4 more goals to even it out.
    Die Bayern, Die !

    • Inamess
      May 6, 2015

      Hey Yuvi! As silly as the idea sounds that exactly what some deluded Bayern fans are now arguing. Somehow the 2013 goals count too so we need to play the game of our lives in the Allianz to even things out. Also, our goals shouldn’t count because Neymar should have been sent off for diving.

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