FC Bayern München enjoyed an exceptional night in an already glorious history with a comprehensive victory at FC Barcelona, reaching a second consecutive UEFA Champions League final and setting up an all-German affair against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on 25 May.
With the Bundesliga champions already 4-0 up from the first leg, second-half goals from Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller either side of a Gerard Piqué own goal, completed the biggest aggregate win in a UEFA Champions League semi-final. It was also Barcelona's heaviest aggregate defeat in UEFA competition, and the first time the Catalan club had lost both legs of a European tie since March 1987. Bayern deserved every accolade that came their way.
Nevertheless, even though the first game had been such a clinical defeat and regardless of the disappointment that Lionel Messi was fit only for the bench, this was initially a much more typical Barcelona performance. In terms of work-rate, self-confidence and positive intentions, Tito Vilanova's team were at least equal to opponents who had overrun them eight days earlier.
Bayern showed clear intent, however, to try and press with the same diligence and intelligence witnessed in Munich, then pounce on errors. Thirteen minutes in that nearly paid a rich dividend when Bastian Schweinsteiger used the 'third-man run', a tactic so beloved of Barcelona themselves, to set Robben haring in on goal. Piqué's tackle was a goal-saving intervention.
Before the half was out Piqué was required to produce equally vital interceptions to deny Philipp Lahm and Mario Mandžukić, with the influential Schweinsteiger again at the heart of both moves.
However, because Barcelona were working so hard, they too enjoyed their opportunities. Pedro Rodríguez's shot had the virtue of being an instant decision and so well struck that Manuel Neuer needed his full length to tip it over. Xavi Hernández then hooked a half-volley narrowly over at a time when a Blaugrana goal would have given a real competitive edge to an already intriguing match.
Yet chances missed will always come back to haunt, particularly at this level. Four minutes after the break Barcelona cleared a corner as far as David Alaba on the halfway line. The full-back's long crossfield pass exposed the defence and allowed Robben space to run at Marc Bartra. In his trademark manoeuvre the Dutchman ran straight, cut inside onto his left foot and smashed the ball beyond Valdés.
Soon both Xavi and Andrés Iniesta were taken off, an indication that for the Barça staff this tie was already lost and tired stars could be protected. Confirmation came with 18 minutes left when Franck Ribéry's fierce left-wing centre sliced off Piqué's shin as he tried to clear and bulged the net.
Four minutes later, Barcelona's misery was complete. Ribéry lofted another cross to the back post and Müller outmuscled Bartra and Adriano to nod in, capping a genuinely remarkable night for Jupp Heynckes' heavyweights, whose ruthless and stylish display bodes well for a fifth European title in north London.
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