Bayern Munich are one step away from making handsome amends for their dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Chelsea in last year?s Champions League final. A 3-0 win at the Nou Camp gave them a crushing 7-0 aggregate win over the pre-tournament favourites and they will now meet Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in an all-German Wembley final.
The ease with which Bayern swept aside Barcelona has shocked the football world and anyone clinging to the hope of a miraculous fight back last night knew their fate simply before kick-off. The name of Lionel Messi was missing from the Barcelona starting line-up, effectively removing what slim hopes that the home side had of reaching the final. The performance of the home side was a bitter disappointment and lacked the passion and pride that most observers were expecting to see. The tie may have been all but decided but it is surprising that a team regarded as the best in the world cannot summons the fight to salvage a bit of pride. Bayern were once again better in all departments and goals from Robben, Pique (own goal) and Mueller allowed them to embarrass Barca in front o their own fans.
Of course, a great team does not become second rate overnight and Barcelona are still a considerable force in club football. However, victory for Borussia Dortmund over Real Madrid in the other semi-final suggests that the balance of power has now shifted from Spain to the Bundesliga. A team that has just thrashed Barcelona 7-0 over two legs would normally be expected to start strong favourites for the final but they will not have it easy against familiar foes. Unlike Barcelona, Madrid made a spirited attempt to reverse a 4-1 first leg deficit and two late goals had Dortmund firmly on the back foot. Jose Mourinho?s side laid siege to the Dortmund goal and could even have stolen the tie if a late penalty appeal had been upheld.
However, it would have been an injustice to Dortmund if they had not reached the final after putting on such a dominant display in the first leg. It will be Dortmund’s second appearance in the Champions League final following their 1997 victory and the match will have added spice as they clash with their main domestic rivals. Robert Lewandowski scored all four goals in the first leg and his market value has soared. It is going to be fascinating to see if Dortmund can withstand the financial muscle of their rivals in the summer transfer market but the focus is now on the Wembley final.
Midway through the second half there was little indication that Madrid could mount a serious challenge with the visitors looking much the more likely to break the deadlock. Lewandowski hit the crossbar and Diego Lopez made a great save from Gundogan to avoid going behind on the night. The breakthrough came just six minutes from time when Benzema coolly slotted home after Ozil had set him up. That spurned a hectic blitz from the home side with Ramos pulling another back with only two minutes remaining. The Bernabeu roared their side on for one final effort but Dortmund held on to book their place in the final on May 25th