Messy Barcelona toppled by mighty Müller

Cities are so often defined and moulded by historical moments. The seams of Munich were bursting, both full of people and anticipation at the prospect of another memorable story. The greatest side of the last decade places their coveted treble in the most enthralling of balances.

Arjen Robben's shot from a Javi Martinez back-heel nearly set the red touch paper alight as the whole stadium, the whole city, seemed to exert a collective groan. It was a chance. The pitch seemed unable to keep up with Barcelona's pinging possession as their expected retention came to the fore. Bayern were a little risky but the suggestion was that they needed to be.

They sought desperately to press Barcelona at pivotal moments but as ever, the Spanish giants passed their way around any discomfort. Gerard Pique failed to conceal a handball from Bayern but he did managed to disguise it from Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai.

The header that seemingly won the Champions League final last year was captured perfectly in a memorable photo. Thomas Müller's emotion was pouring out as he was mobbed by his teammates. Sadly that goal didn't decide the game. In the same ground, but at the other end, against a different opponent, at a different time, the same man stepped forward to head Bayern into the lead after a superb initial header by Dante. His celebration though, had very much the same outpouring of ecstasy.

It wasn't a goal to win the game, or even decide the tie, but it was one to set the tempo. Barcelona were a little rattled by Bayern's high conversion rate in the tackle but that doesn't mean they weren't still well stocked to provide a threat. Dante's excellent slide denied Messi a certain goal but there was no doubt that Bayern were trying, and on the whole succeeding, at playing the visitors at their own game.

If Pique thought his handball was clandestine, then Alexis Sanchez re-invented the word midway through the first half from another Bayern corner. Inevitably leading the possession stats at half-time, Barcelona found themselves on the wrong end of the most important statistics in the face of a rapid Bayern attack.

Another handball from Barcelona in their own area was missed by the officials and it left Bayern fuming. That fury was momentary because another Müller header led to another goal for Bayern. This time, Mario Gomez, standing in what has become the trendy offside position in the Champions League, volleyed home to his delight. Franck Ribery clipped wide and then Arjen Robben rose highest but also failed to hit the target. The new Bayern were asserting themselves and Barcelona, as the first hour ticked by, had no answer.

Barcelona were reduced to ineffective crosses as Bayern continued to press hard, even after the hour mark. Most notably was the defensive tracking from Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. The wingers have been doing it all season but Gomez's determination, both pre- and post-goal, showed the signs of a man determined to stay.

As a collective, Bayern were more determined and they had been from the first minute. When Arjen Robben opted to cut outside instead of his preferred inside, the dreamy scoreline of 3-0 was realised as the Dutchman curled superbly into the far corner. Thomas Müller's basketball-esque block was missed in the build-up though, as the officials' poor performance continued.

3-0 was dreamy. 4-0 was sensational. Soon enough, it was true. David Alaba, staking his claim as the world's best left back, crossed past Valdes and having found his much coveted space, Müller tapped home his second. Pandemonium? Disbelief? Maybe in the stands and in my head, but on the pitch there was simply a visible confidence that all the hype about this team was true.

The startling announcement earlier in the day that Mario Götze will be a Bayern player next season, can only make performances like this all the more suggestive. Toppling the European success of the 1970s Bayern side is seemingly what Guardiola has been brought in for. They've got to start somewhere, and after another landmark evening in Munich, Heynckes deserves all the credit he can get.

FC Bayern München: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez - Ribery (88' Shaqiri), Müller (83' Pizarro), Robben - Gomez (71' Luiz Gustavo)

FC Barcelona: Valdes - Alves, Pique, Bartra, Alba - Xavi, Busquests, Iniesta - Sanchez, Messi, Pedro (83' Villa)

Goals: 1-0 Müller (25'), 2-0 Gomez (49'), 3-0 Robben (73'), 4-0 Müller (82')

Yellow cards: Gomez, Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Bartra, Sanchez, Alba, Iniesta

Referee: Viktor Kassai
Attendance: 68,000


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