The Alianz Arena was draped with red as Bayern Munich delivered the most famous victory in recent times to their adoring 70,000 and more fans who braved the heavy rains to watch the Champions League semifinal against Barcelona.
Indeed, their most ardent fan would not have imagined 4-0 result in their team’s favour. But that was what happened as Thomas Muller sunk in two goals, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez one each to blow away Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and company. The game and result drove home the most important football lesson that Barcelona never gives a thought to — shoot when you have to shoot, don’t pass.
Unless you shoot, you can never get a goal. All your ball possession is rendered meaningless. Statistically, Barcelona had 63 per cent possession to Bayern Munich’s 37. They had just four attempts to Bayern’s 13. Nothing emphasises this better.
In fact, had Robben not been his usual selfish self, Bayern might have got a couple more. Soon after the start and off their second foray, Bastian Schweinsteiger split the defence for Robben. The Dutchman sprinted into the box and tried to place past the onrushing goalkeeper Victor Valdes who blocked the effort. Franck Ribery was lying unmarked to Robben’s left and despite the Frenchman yelling for the ball, Robben failed to spot and provide him the pass.
Yet, the kind of sharpness that Bayern displayed whenever on the offensive was absent in Barca’s attacks. The Spanish giants tried to work deeper and deeper into the Bayern box only to be foiled and dispossessed. The German team custodian Manuel Neuer did not have to work much in 90 minutes. That not only gives the impression of the German defensive mechanism but also shows how reluctant Barca were to shoot in the vicinity of the penalty region. Maybe, it’s not over as yet but to turn around a 0-4 deficit in the second leg even at home would be herculean task if Barca approach the improbable with the same attitude. Mere possession will bring them nothing.