Champions League - Bayern trounce Barcelona again to reach final

Champions League semi-final second leg, Camp Nou – Barcelona 0 Bayern Munich 3 (Robben 49, Pique o.g. 72, Mueller 76): Bayern win 7-0 on aggregate.

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Champions League - Bayern trounce Barcelona again to reach final
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Bayern Munich's players celebrate after scoring during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match FC Barcelona vs FC Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 1, 2013 (AFP)

Bayern Munich will contest a third Champions League final in four years after a 3-0 win at the Camp Nou gave them a crushing 7-0 aggregate victory over Barcelona, who were without Lionel Messi.

Leading 4-0 from the first leg, Bayern shut the hosts out before Arjen Robben fired a marvellous curling shot past Victor Valdes early in the second half.

Barca tried gamely to get back into the match but a comical own-goal from Gerard Pique put Bayern out of sight, with Thomas Mueller heading in a third soon afterwards.

Those two goals came from Franck Ribery crosses as Bayern’s flying wingers tore Barcelona apart, with full-backs Daniel Alves and Adriano having particularly dreadful games.

The result – Barcelona’s heaviest aggregate defeat in Europe – means it will be an all-German final at Wembley Stadium on May 25, with Borussia Dortmund having seen off Real Madrid the previous night.

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On the evidence of the second legs, Bayern are in pole position to win a fifth European title, although matches with Dortmund are usually high-scoring, ding-dong affairs.

Barca, meanwhile, have a lot of rebuilding to do if they are to return to the glory days under Pep Guardiola, who starts his new job as Bayern boss next month. The Catalan giants have not been helped by Guardiola’s exit, with replacement Tito Vilanova undergoing treatment for cancer in what has been a difficult year for the club.

A monumental task in this match was made nigh-on impossible when it was announced that Messi would start on the bench, presumably due to the fitness problems that started during the first leg of the quarter-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain. He never showed for the second half.

The Bundesliga champions could afford to make several changes, with Dante (who also had a cold), Luiz Gustavo and Mario Gomez all a booking away from missing the final. Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger were deemed indispensable enough to start, but with the tie decided ahead of schedule they were all subbed off to avoid that scenario.

Barca were slow out of the blocks as Bayern sat deep and waited for the counter-attack. Pique twice made exceptional last-ditch tackles to deny Robben and Lahm as Barca found themselves the unwilling recipients of a trio of goalmouth scrambles.

The hosts passed their way back into contention though, as Pedro forced a decent stop from Manuel Neuer, while Xavi blasted over from eight yards after Cesc Fabregas knocked down Alves’s cross.

It was a brief spell of dominance as Bayern regrouped to stifle the Catalans for the rest of the half, with the final quarter-hour a damp squib.

Despite rumours suggesting otherwise, Messi did not materialise after the break and the disappointment around Camp Nou was tangible.

And fans started streaming out when, four minutes in, Robben cut inside a poor challenge from Adriano, who had allowed him on to his stronger foot, and he curled a beauty past Valdes with that left peg.

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Barca were never going to be able to hit six goals in 40 minutes against Bayern’s well-drilled defence, but the hosts at least attempted to make it competitive on the night.

That too backfired as their advanced full-backs continued to get caught out, Alves twice going walkabout to allow Ribery crosses from the left wing. The first such delivery was spectacularly volleyed in by hapless defender Pique while the second went deeper to the far post and was nodded home by Mueller, always one to sneak into good positions unnoticed.

It was an embarrassing romp by Barca’s standards, Messi or no Messi, and one which makes Bayern clear favourites to beat their main domestic rivals in London later this month.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) – The Dutch winger has been tipped to leave Bayern after a so-so season by his standards, but he sparkled in Spain and scored a beauty that killed the tie.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona: Valdes 5, Alves 4, Pique 6, Bartra 5, Adriano 4, Song 5, Xavi 5, Iniesta 5, Fabregas 5, Pedro 5, Villa 5; Subs: Thiago 5, Sanchez 5, Montoya NA

Bayern: Neuer 7, Lahm 7, Boateng 8, Van Buyten 7, Alaba 8, Javi Martinez 8, Schweinsteiger 7, Mueller 7, Robben 8, Ribery 8, Mandzukic 7; Subs: Tymoshchuk 7, Luiz Gustavo 7, Rafinha 7

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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