In a shocking exhibition, Barcelona defeated Real Salt Lake at Camp Nou last Thursday 4-0...wait, what?
That wasn't an MLS club?
That was BAYERN MUNICH? The defending champion of the Bundesliga? Really?
Bayern manager and German football legend Jurgen Klinsmann said before the match that he thought that Barcelona were the best club in the world. The Blaugrana did nothing to disprove that.
In a marvelous display, Barca showed why they are the most feared club in this tournament and the best club in the world.
All four goals came in the first half, and if not for an amazing save by Bayern's Hans-Jorg Butt in the 50th minute, a ridiculous yellow card on Lionel Messi (called for diving in the penalty area when replays showed he was clearly tripped), and Barcelona trying to get a little too cute in the second half, the score could have been much worse.
The match was over after the second goal, a fine finish by Samuel Eto'o, set up by a no look backheel from Messi. Hey, I personally thought it was over when the draw was made weeks ago (that's a lie, I was nervous, but it sounds good), but, well, let's hear from Bayern playmaker Franck Ribery:
"It felt a bit like the team panicked. It also seemed like we gave up a bit after Barcelona got their first two goals. We couldn't put two or three good passes together and if you are stuck in the last 20 metres of the pitch defending everything which comes at you all the time, then it becomes really difficult."
Panicked? A veteran (read: old) team has no business panicking in the UEFA Champions League quarters. That is a telling statement from Ribery.
The next two goals came straight out of EA Sports FIFA 09. In the 38th minute, Thierry Henry set up Messi's second goal. Its awesomeness (not a word, I know, save it) is hard to describe.
Henry, from a near impossible angle to Butt's right, centered the ball to what seemed like no one. Just as I was saying, "Oh, unlucky," Messi slides in out of nowhere to push it past Butt for a fabulous finish.
Oh, I guess it wasn't that hard to describe.
By the time Henry scored in the 43rd minute off of a disturbingly sick pass from Messi (who was in on all four goals, can we just give him the footballer of the year trophy now, or do we have to wait?), it was all over but the plane ride back to Munich.
The good news for Bayern supporters is that the second leg of this tie is in the friendly confines of Allianz Arena. The bad news? No team in the history of the Champions League has ever come back to win after being down 4-0.
Sure, there's a first time for everything. But honey, this ain't it.
Bring on Chelsea.
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