Barcelona would have been a long shot to overcome a 4-0 deficit against Bayern Munich in a Champions League semifinal with Lionel Messi.
Without him, they never stood a chance.
Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller tallied for Bayern Munich, and Pique added an own goal in the German side's 3-0 victory at Camp Nou (7-0 on aggregate). To say that Bayern Munich dominated both legs of this tie would be an understatement.
The biggest storyline from this match came even before it began, however, as the world's best player, Messi, started on the bench. Without him, Barcelona was simply incapable of unlocking Bayern's defense or shaking off the pressure applied by the German side far up the pitch.
Robben had the first golden opportunity of the game, breaking well behind the Barca defense on the counter-attack. But he was hesitant on his run and Gerard Pique was able to track back and diffuse the threat.
Bayern Munich continued to press Barcelona high up the pitch and strike quickly on the counter-attack. The team had another chance in the box in the 18th minute, as Bastian Schweinsteiger played a centering pass from the right of the box to Philipp Lahm, but Pique would again come sliding in to end the scoring chance.
Xavi Hernandez missed a fantastic chance in the 26th minute. Dani Alves' cross was chested down by Cesc Fabregas and fell to Xavi, but the Spanish midfielder couldn't deliver, as his shot soared well over the bar.
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Another chance for Barcelona as Xavi's close-range shot skies over the bar: - http://t.co/Se8935mXQc5/1/2013, 7:14:13 PM
Minutes later, Xavi played a low cross to Fabregas, but the forward couldn't get enough juice on his toe poke to send the ball past Manuel Neuer.
The teams went into the half scoreless, a major win for Bayern. Barcelona simply couldn't unlock the German side's defense without Messi, and it was Bayern who had the most promising chances in the first half.
Robben ended this matchup within minutes of the second-half opening. David Alaba played a brilliant diagonal pass to Robben in space, and the Dutchman promptly cut into the box and curled home the game's first goal.
With that tally, Barca were facing a five-goal deficit in aggregate and would need to score six goals to advance. In other words, game, set and match for Bayern Munich.
Barcelona continued to struggle to find decent scoring opportunities. Pedro took one of many long-range efforts in the 71st minute, but the low shot lacked power and Neuer barely moved to make the save.
And then, as if being completely dominated wasn't enough, Barca scored an own goal.
Franck Ribery was sent clear on the left side of the box and played a cross into the box that was intercepted by Pique, who would send the ball into his own net after it took an unfortunate deflection off of his knee.
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A Pique own goal adds more misery for Barcelona. Bayern up 2-0. Ouch: - http://t.co/T9b75n1L9L5/1/2013, 8:14:44 PM
It only got worse—and much, much more embarrassing—for Barcelona. Ribery again went running down the left and lobbed a cross into the center of the box, where Mueller soared above two Barca defenders and headed home his team's third goal.
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Bayern not showing any signs of stopping. Ribery to Muller for their third goal: - http://t.co/p7AZwCawkC5/1/2013, 8:19:22 PM
Yes, that gave Bayern Munich a 7-0 lead in aggregate. It was surreal, to say the least. Bayern Munich will now meet Borussia Dortmund in an all-German Champions League final, while Barcelona will be licking their wounds and will have to be satisfied with their pending La Liga title.
Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich: B+
Robben offered a pretty typical performance, giving Barca all kinds of problems down the right side, frustrating Bayern's supporters and his teammates with some poor decisions and ultimately scoring a brilliant goal that ended any Barca hopes. Just another day at the office for Robben.
Pique, Barcelona: A-
Let's get one thing out of the way—I wouldn't give another player on Barca a passing grade in this game. Through and through, the team was dominated.
But Pique was very good in this game, and truthfully, I felt bad for him on the own goal. He was the lone bright spot for Barca, thwarting countless Bayern attacks, and he deserved better than the ignominy of an own goal.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, Bayern Munich: A+
Over both ties, they absolutely bossed the midfield, something you won't often see against Barcelona. The Catalans' lack of width was one of their downfalls, as the team simply could not penetrate up the center of the pitch due to Schweinsteiger and Martinez dominating up the middle.
Tito Vilanova, Barcelona: F
So let me get this straight—bringing Messi off the bench against Athletic Bilbao over the weekend was worth risking him for a Champions League semifinal, in which he ultimately didn't play? Are you kidding me?
I have no idea what Vilanova was thinking with that decision, but as soon as it was announced that Messi was starting the game on the bench, Barcelona's already long odds became insurmountable. Probably the worst decision of Vilanova's career.
Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich: A+
He gave Barca trouble all game long running up the left flank. He doubled back defensively and shut down Barcelona when the team actually tried to play with width. He set up two scores. If you ever want to see the definition of perfect wing play, just watch Ribery in this match.