The Barcelona v Bayern Munich Champions League Semi-Final did not disappoint last night (06/05/15).  Both sides produced an intriguing and engaging battle which really came to life just 13 minutes before the end when two moments of Messi magic all but ended the German champion's hopes of another Champions League final.  Two goals in quick succession from superstar Lionel Messi were followed by an impressively quick counter-attacking goal from Neymar in added time as the game finished 3-0 to the hosts.  Bayern Munich were without star men Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben but produced a tactically astute performance which for the most part stifled the dangerous Barcelona attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.  This was of course due to the inside knowledge of Barcelona gleaned by Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola during his 4 years in Spain as manager of the Catalan giants.  The Champions League semi-final was Guardiola's first match back at the Nou Camp since he departed Barcelona in 2012 during which time he and the team collected an astounding 14 trophies.  A hero's welcome awaited Guardiola as the 95,000-strong crowd created a cauldron-like atmosphere within the Nou Camp, the majority resplendent in their distinctive red and blue Barcelona shirts.  Despite the love shown to Guardiola off the pitch his team were shown no mercy on it and Barcelona's attacking prowess was eventually enough to overpower Bayern Munich leaving them with an extremely difficult Champions League semi-final second leg back at the Allianz Arena.

Barcelona v Bayern Munich Champions League Semi-Final


 In what is an unusual statistic at the Nou Camp, Bayern Munich actually ended last night's match with 55% of the possession and manager Pep Guardiola boldly stated that his side had "controlled the game up until their first goal".  However after the match a reflective Guardiola stated that his team's challenge of turning around a three goal deficit was tough.  His hopes will be buoyed though by the team spirit that his players showed in coming back from a 3-1 first leg defeat to FC Porto in the previous round when they went on to demolish the Portuguese champions 6-1 in the second leg.  After a decent start to the match which saw Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski squander a chance to open the scoring it was apparent that Guardiola's bold move of playing with a back three was not going to work.  It was clear that his selection of Benatia, Boateng and Rafinha were being stretched by Barcelona trio Messi, Suarez and Neymar so a first half tactical switch to a back four proved more sensible option to limit Barca's chances.  This move yielded good results with Bayern Munich defending well and repelling the Barcelona advances, however they also struggled to create many chances of their own.


After an intriguing tactical battle the deadlock was finally broken after 77 minutes when a hurried free-kick from Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer gifted possession to Barcelona who turned the ball over with talisman Lionel Messi eventually slotting the ball into the corner of the Bayern Munich net with a powerful left-footed shot from just outside the area.  Within 3 minutes a second goal was added by the majestic Argentina international as Bayern Munich were yet again caught in possession.  Messi stepped into the box and with his characteristic mesmerising footwork left Jerome Boateng in a spin.  As the German international quite literally fell to the floor Messi surprised the world yet again by chipping the ball over the goalkeeper with his supposedly weaker right foot.  While most teams would have been content at 2-0 Barcelona struck again in added time at the end of the match.  Bayern Munich were pushing for an all-important away goal but ended up conceding possession again with Suarez setting up Neymar who showed an impressive turn of speed for a man who has played 94 minutes of football.  The Brazil international simply raced away from the Bayern Munich defence and finished coolly past Neuer to close out the game and most likely the entire Champions League semi-final.


Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg


So, the tie now rests on what happens in the semi-final second leg, and Bayern Munich will simply be hoping that by giving everything they have it is still possible to pull of the most unlikely of results and overturn the 3-0 aggregate score.  However, with the world class squad available to Luis Enrique it is widely thought that Barcelona will be the ones to progress to the Champions League final where they will face the winner of the other semi-final between Juventus and Real Madrid.  One of the main talking points from last night's match was the fact that, as usual, Lionel Messi went one better than Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.  On the previous night Ronaldo had scored against Juventus taking his career Champions League tally to 76 goals leaving Messi on 75.  But of course, almost inevitably, Messi staked his claim for the 'greatest player in the world' title by notching twice taking his own personal Champions League tally to 77, no doubt annoying his arch-rival Ronaldo in the process.  So with next week's Champions League semi-final second leg looming why not grab a bargain at Soccer Box and check out our huge range of official Barcelona football kits where we cater for kids, youths and adults with shirts, jerseys, training kits and accessories available for the home and the match.  You can also keep on top of the latest news and product updates by following the Soccer Box social media platforms including Instagram and Google +.