Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bayern blasts limping Barcelona

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MUNICH, Germany -- For once, Barcelona was on the wrong end of the kind of drubbing it so often inflicts on others. And with Bayern Munich in this kind of devastating form, even a fully fit Lionel Messi may not have made much of a difference.

Bayern humbled the Spanish powerhouse Tuesday, taking full advantage of Messi's sub-par performance as it overwhelmed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of their highly anticipated Champions League semifinal.

"We knew we were able to give them a good competition," Bayern winger Arjen Robben said. "This team (Barcelona) has dominated Europe over the last five years and if you beat them like this, I think you can be proud."

Barcelona had twice as much possession as Bayern but had very little to show for it against the new German champion's aggressive defence.

Thomas Mueller scored two goals as Bayern took a giant step toward a second consecutive final.

"When it comes to big games, I just go wild," Mueller said.

Mueller scored in the first half and added another after Mario Gomez and Robben had also scored in the second half. It was Barcelona's biggest loss in the Champions League since 1997, and largest in any competition since 2007.

Messi has been bothered by a hamstring injury for three weeks and was only declared fit to play shortly before the match. But the four-time FIFA player of the year was a pale shadow of himself.

"Leo tried really hard just to be here, he gave everything, but he couldn't do more," Barcelona's assistant coach Jordi Roura said.

With Messi struggling, none of his teammates was able to create much of anything either as they were effectively stifled by the disciplined Germans.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2013 C6

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