Rating the Bayern Munich Players in Barcelona Blitz
Bayern Munich's 4-0 demolition of Barcelona on Tuesday night was one of the most clinical and comprehensive European performances in recent seasons, and one that virtually guarantees the Germans a place in the Champions League final on May 25.
The Bavarians were tactically and technically superior to the ailing La Liga outfit, with Jupp Heynckes and his men outsmarting the Catalans in every area of the game.
Such an outstanding team display needed plenty of individual contributions, so I've taken a closer look at each player's performance and function in dressing down the side previously considered the best on the planet.
Let me know your feelings on where it went right, and share your thoughts on who you think deserves the plaudits from Bayern's brutal blitz of Barcelona.
Manuel Neuer: 7
Barely had a shot to save and dealt with whatever he had to with relative comfort.
A supreme team effort ahead of him meant Neuer's goal was well protected as Barca were kept at bay for large periods.
He'll have more to do at the Camp Nou and may have to return some favours from tonight.
Philipp Lahm: 8
A faultless performance from a player who is not just a great defender, but a fine footballer too.
Neither Pedro nor Alexis Sanchez got any change out of Philipp Lahm, as his savvy positioning kept Barca at arm's length down his side.
His defensive reliability was also matched by some daring darts into opposition territory, timing his runs wisely but effectively.
There are few players around who deserve a Champions League medal as much as Phillip Lahm, and at this rate he'll at least be given an opportunity to atone for last year.
Jerome Boateng: 8
Jerome Boateng's pace and presence alongside Dante gave Bayern the conviction to press Barcelona high and disrupt the Catalans' flow.
Most of the play the visitors had was deep, but the central-defensive duo had to keep tabs on Barca's striker-less formation and deal with whoever strayed into their zone.
The midfield did a fine screening job, and Boateng dealt with whatever did come through with minimal fuss.
A good understanding with Jerome Boateng provided the bedrock of a solid team show, and Dante was another who contributed a fine individual performance to the collective.
Between the back four, Bayern had enough pace and awareness to push up, and Dante rarely fell out of line in an immaculately drilled display.
He made a timely tackle to poke Pedro's dangerous low cross away from the lurking Lionel Messi with the score at 1-0, and the Brazilian can be more than satisfied with his role in shutting Barca out.
David Alaba: 8
Plenty of Barca's early play came down David Alaba's side and the 20-year-old once again showed maturity beyond his years to deal with it.
Dani Alves doubled up with one of the wingers throughout as the Catalans targeted Alaba's flank, but there was little doing as the Austrian international stuck to his part of the defensive bargain.
He regularly flew forward in the early stages, but the youngster couldn't strike up much cohesion with Franck Ribery and remained firm to the mild threat Barca posed.
Javi Martinez: 8.5
Javi Martinez played the calmer, more cerebral anchor to Bastian Schweinsteiger's manic chasing, and his astute positioning was another important feature in completely outfoxing Tito Villanova's side.
The idea of playing a holding two is a simple one, yet rarely done correctly. But Martinez and Schweinsteiger showed a well-founded understanding as a partnership and operated it expertly to win the middle of midfield.
Martinez was just as effective with the ball as without it and helped set the tone with some short, sharp passing to keep the tempo high.
The Spaniard has generally been a success since his move from Athletic Bilbao last summer, and this performance paid back a large instalment of the €40 million transfer fee.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: 8.5
Bavarian-born Bayern hero Bastian Schweinsteiger completely bossed the show on his home patch.
Xavi couldn't hack his incessant pressing, and Sergio Busquets was ran over as Bayern completely overpowered Barcelona in midfield.
The 28-year-old added vigour to Bayern with his range of passing and sprung plenty of play after breaking Barca down.
His drive and determination resonated throughout the side, and Schweinsteiger played like a man hell-bent on erasing the memories of last year's heartbreak.
Arjen Robben: 9
Arjen Robben set the bar extremely high going first in the unofficial two-night audition of Bayern wingers present and future.
The Dutchman took the imminent arrival of Mario Goetze in the best possible fashion by delivering a man-of-the-match performance that put the rest—Lionel Messi included—firmly in the shade.
He started lively, always looking to inject pace and penetration whenever involved, and caused many more problems from wide areas than anyone from Barca.
Robben had a hand in the first two goals, scored the third himself and created another couple of opportunities for Franck Ribery.
The Bayern No. 10 lso seems to have acquired a work rate from somewhere and was seen working furiously, flying into tackles and harassing the opposition with the grit of a man who wants to stay and fight for his place.
Thomas Muller: 8.5
Thomas Muller is a curious player, because he's never as visually prevalent as plenty of others, but his output is highly effective.
In the early stages he worked as furtively as the rest, but his impression on the ball was non-existent until he popped up to nod home the opener.
He was also lurking to head across for Mario Gomez to double the lead and even bundled Jordi Alba over in the buildup to Arjen Robben's third before poking home his second and Bayern's fourth close to the end.
Muller's an effective rather than an aesthetic player but remains a key cog in the Munich machine.
Franck Ribery: 7.5
Franck Ribery made a breezy start and forced Victor Valdes into a smart stop after just a couple of minutes.
His threat was limited for large parts and didn't get involved as much as Robben but rolled Alaba in with precision in the leadup to the fourth goal and could have scored himself early in the second half.
The Frenchman spent plenty of time tracking back to assist Alaba with Dani Alves and put in an energetic shift before being hooked in the last throws.
Mario Gomez: 7.5
If you're in the side to score, and get one despite doing little else, then you've had a good game.
Mario Gomez is a player who pays his way in goals and justified his inclusion by tucking home Bayern's second soon after the restart.
Caused plenty of menace for the Barca back line with his willing runs and physicality, and a lot of his work is done without the ball until it matters.
Came on for Gomez with 20 minutes to go and dropped into midfield to boost the bodies.
Had a 10-minute run-out after replacing Muller but never got involved.
Had the final few minutes instead of Ribery and made one lively burst at a tired Barcelona defence.