For a long time it looked like Barcelona and Bayern Munich would play a goalless draw at Camp Nou in Catalonia, but a couple of moments of brilliance by Lionel Messi late in the second half allowed Barcelona to grab a 3-0 win and a firm grip of this fixture heading into the return leg in Munich.
In the opening half, the Bayern defense played extremely well and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had a phenomenal game in goal for the German side. Barcelona had more of the possession in the first half and had a clear advantage with a total of 15 shots (nine on target) versus six shots for Bayern (one on target) throughout the game.
Both teams did an excellent job of playing with high pressure on the ball handler and cutting off passing routes. When two such strong teams go head-to-head, someone needs to step up and be the difference maker, and Messi surely stepped up for Barca.
The game slowed down a bit in the second half, and Bayern took over more of the possession, but it was Barcelona, or rather Messi, that created the chances and the goals.
Messi broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, after it looked like the game was heading toward a draw. He cut in just above the penalty box on the right side, put the ball on his left foot and placed a shot in Neuer’s left corner that not even the giant German could reach.
He followed up that goal by scoring an absolute beauty three minutes later. Messi broke into the penalty box after a nice feed by Ivan Rakitic and showed off his God-given skills, as he brought German national team defenseman Jerome Boateng to the ground with a quick dribble and the lobbed the ball over Neuer from close range with his right foot.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Brazilian striker Neymar added a third Barca goal in stoppage time after a pass from Messi. Messi put a perfectly timed pass at the feet of Neymar that got a breakaway from just a couple of yards into Munich’s half of the pitch. Coming face to face with Neuer, Neymar showed what he’s capable off as he calmly slotted the ball through the legs of the keeper and into the back of the net.
Bayern needs a miracle if they are going to be able to turn this around. They are at home in the return leg, and they did come back from a deficit in the quarterfinals against FC Porto, winning the home game 6-1, but Barcelona is whole different beast than Porto.
Barcelona is playing with such swagger that it’s tough to imagine them dropping this. They are ahead in La Liga, and have their eyes set on winning both the league and the Champions League trophy.
The return leg is at the Allianz Arena in Munich on May 12.