BERLIN: Five reasons why Bayern Munich lost 3-0 to Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final, first-leg ahead of Tuesday’s return leg at the Allianz Arena:
1) Lionel Messi – The midfield maestro netted twice in three minutes to stun Pep Guardiola’s Bayern before putting Neymar through to score the hosts’ third goal with the type of inspired performance which could make the Argentinian a shoe-in for the 2015 Ballon d’Or if repeated.
2) Jerome Boateng – He may have won the World Cup, the Champions League and three Bundesliga titles, but the Germany centre-back was left prostrate on the Camp Nou turf in the wake of some magical footwork from Messi for his second goal. It was a move former England international Jamie Redknapp described as “almost illegal”.
3) No Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery – Robben scored 19 goals this season before torn stomach muscles, then a torn calf on his return ended his season. Likewise, Bayern have been missing France winger Franck Ribery since March 11 due to an ankle injury. Without their pace, Bayern have struggled to sparkle down the flanks.
4) Robert Lewandowski’s miss – The Poland striker played at the Camp Nou with a protective mask after fracturing his cheekbone and nose in Bayern’s German Cup semi-final defeat to Borussia Dortmund. But Bayern’s top hot-shot, who has scored 23 times this season, missed an absolute sitter on 18 minutes when Thomas Mueller’s cross brushed past his boot right in front of goal. Had Bayern taken an early lead, the Germans chances in the return leg would look a little less pessimistic.
5) Defeat to Dortmund – Bayern’s German Cup semi-final defeat week last Tuesday in a penalty shoot-out cost the Bavarians dearly on a number of levels. Robben was ruled out for the rest of the season and Bayern’s hopes of repeating their 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and cup titles were ended. The defeat was followed up by a league loss at Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday which seemed to take Bayern’s confidence down a few notches. As Bayern coach Pep Guardiola admitted, winning the German league or cup does little to satisfy the Bavarians’ hunger for titles: they want to win the treble, including the Champions League.