Barcelona defeated Bayern Munich on Wednesday night 3-0 in the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Nou Camp, with all three goals coming in the last 13 minutes.
Bayern boss Pep Guardiola pulled a few tactical surprises, with the biggest one being the whole team man-marking the opposition for a spell in the first half, including three defenders go up against Barcelona’s superstar strike-force of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
It was obvious that the tactic was not working as Manuel Neuer had to block Luis Suarez’s effort after just 12 minutes. Two minutes later and Neymar saw an effort from close-range fall for Rafinha, whose effort deflected wide for a corner kick.
Guardiola switched back to a more orthodox formation later in the first half. Bayern came close to taking the lead on 18 minutes as striker Robert Lewandowski stabbed a close-range effort wide of goal.
Barcelona continued to dominate, but could not find a breakthrough until the 77th minute. Good play from Dani Alves resulted in the ball landing at the feet of Lionel Messi on the edge of the area and the Argentine fired a powerful shot beyond Neuer.
Luis Enrique’s team doubled their lead with ten minutes remaining. Messi tormented Bayern defender Jerome Boateng, before expertly chipping the ball over Neuer’s head.
The Catalan giants scored a third deep into stoppage-time. Messi played Neymar through on-goal and the Brazilian international fired past Neuer, who was helpless in the Bayern goal.
In the end Lionel Messi was the difference and it would take something extraordinary from Bayern in the second leg to prevent the Argentine and his team making it to another Champions League final.
Was Pep Guardiola right to field a three-man defence against Barcelona?