Barcelona came to the Allianz Arena looking to extend their Champions League dominance. What they saw, however, was a dominance of a different kind—that of a German giant in Bayern Munich who put the world on notice with a crushing win.
Buoyed on by the home crowd, Bayern simply dominated the Catalan giants on the night—running in four goals to none and outplaying their opponent in every department.
Their defense was rock-solid; their midfield worked tirelessly for great reward; and their attack was the dangerous assault weapon that we've seen right throughout the year—chalking up goals and running rings around opponents seemingly at will.
It could not have been more dominant from the Bavarians, as they essentially put themselves through to the final in Wembley Stadium.
There will be no way that Barcelona can eradicate a four-goal deficit at the Nou Camp—not against this Bayern team, anyway.
Uncanny to see Xavi, Iniesta and Messi looking so chastened. Will be hard to think of Barcelona in quite the same way after this.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) April 23, 2013
Robben (Bayern): "Barcelona have dominated Europe for the last five years so to beat them like that, it makes you proud." #fcblive [uefa]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) April 23, 2013
With the win, Bayern edge closer to their third final in four years. Which, for all the talk of Barcelona making six straight Champions League semifinals, is just as incredible an achievement, and one that deserves to be recognized.
However, the talking point to emerge from this one will not be about the fact that Bayern are seemingly through to the final. It will be the nature of their win, and the dominance that they portrayed in wiping the floor with Barcelona that has most people talking, and wondering, if this is the start of a new world-order in Champions League football, where Barca are no longer the hegemony.
Are we witnessing a "changing of the guard", if you like, in the UEFA Champions League power stakes? The answer is undoubtedly yes.
The German heavyweights showed against Barcelona that they are superior right across the pitch. Manuel Neuer is a world-class goalkeeper; their defense is the best in world football at the moment. Their midfield is vastly talented and has an abundance of depth, whilst their attacking line features some of the biggest names in world football as well as some of the top up-and-coming stars.
They are, in every sense of the word, a complete football team, and have shown that to be true with a runaway Bundesliga victory and the chance at a treble in 2013.
Yet more than that—Bayern are only going to get better.
Mario Gotze (arguably the hottest young talent in Germany) will join their midfield from Borussia Dortmund over the summer transfer window.
Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola (again, one of the best managers in world football) will also make a move to the German heavyweights.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic, Luiz Gustavo, Javi Martinez, Tony Kroos, Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri, David Alaba, Pierre Hojbjerg—all will be still under the age of 30 and likely to carry on their careers at the Allianz Arena for several more seasons.
Their under-19 team is talented also, and with one of the best youth academies in the world, Bayern will likely see a plethora of talent coming through the ranks for many more years to come.
They are not only the Champions League favorites this year, but they are the perennial favorites to become the next hegemony in world football.
Which, given the talent they have, the success they've already shown and the potential that's to come over the next few seasons, is completely understandable.
Rummenigge: team functioned collectively like in a dream— raphael honigstein (@honigstein) April 23, 2013
We're not just looking at a talented football team—we're looking at a dynasty.
The new world order isn't about Barcelona any more.
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