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LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jul 2016 4pm

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What Are Today's Headlines?

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Friday is ...


bayern_barcaMUNICH: Bayern Munich produced a devastating performance to thrash Barcelona 4-0 at Allianz Arena this morning and all but kill off the Catalans Champions League semi-final, reported Eurosport.

Two goals from Thomas Mueller and one each from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben added up to humiliation for the former competition favorites.

Barcelona dominated possession, but found themselves outclassed on every other level as the Bundesliga champions delivered 90 minutes of power, discipline and decisiveness.

Yes, Tito Vilanova's side will point out that Gomez was offside for his goal, and Robben scored his after an illegal block on Jordi Alba by Thomas Mueller.

They will lament a below-par Lionel Messi, who lacked sharpness after a hamstring injury - though he still played 90 minutes with David Villa and Cesc Fabregas waiting on the bench.

But nobody will return to Catalonia feeling anything other than chastened after a lesson in converting possession into something more useful.

The tie is not yet over, with the return leg at Nou Camp next Wednesday. Barca won their second leg 4-0 against AC Milan in the last 16 - but Bayern are a far steelier proposition and on this morning's evidence the Bavarians are just as likely to increase their margin of victory as see it trimmed.

Messi's return headlined Barca's team news, but Tito Vilanova's side still had their share of absentees - the inexperienced Marc Bartra started in central defence with Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano missing.

Typically, Barca hogged the ball, but every time the visitors tried to move the ball into the final third they ran into a wall of tacklers. Bayern closed down diligently, and often went in two at a time on Messi.

Once they won the ball, Bayern moved it quickly and purposefully. Time and again they exploited space behind the adventurous Jordi Alba, giving Arjen Robben space to run into.

Jupp Heynckes's side won eight first half corners, and one fittingly led to the opening goal. Barca failed to clear Ribery's delivery from the left and the ball fell to Robben on the other flank.

The Dutchman, uncharacteristically, crossed right-footed and Dante nodded back across goal for Mueller to poach expertly at the right-hand post, nodding the ball in despite goalkeeper Victor Valdes's efforts.

Valdes had already been called upon to save once from Robben and once from Mueller, both from the Bayern right.

At the other end, there were no alarms for Valdes's opposite number Manuel Neuer. The closest Barca came was from a rare swift attack - Pedro crossed from the right and Dante got a vital toenail on the ball to guide it away from Messi and out for a corner.

Barca lacked rhythm, and weren't helped by a sodden centre-circle, inexplicably over-watered on a rain-free day in Bavaria.

While the conspiracy theorists had a field day, Bayern do not normally have to resort to underhand tactics at home, where they have now won 18 of their last 21 Champions League games.

Barca's second-half plans swiftly unravelled when Gomez made it two from another corner. Mueller headed across goal from another Robben delivery and Gomez finished from close range, though he was marginally offside.

Barca's best spell followed, though they never managed to trouble Neuer.

In the 73rd minute the third came, as Robben weaved his way through the area and beat Valdes from the right side of the six-yard box.

Mueller executed a basketball-style screen block on Alba in the build-up but the additional assistant referee behind the goal did nothing.

But there was no doubt about the fourth as Robben laid it off to the overlapping David Alaba down the left, and Mueller turned in his low cross for another simple finish.

On the day they announced the £32 million signing of Mario Goetze from Borussia Dortmund, Bayern shredded the side still seen as the best in the world. And Josep 'Pep' Guardiola is coming.

The future is theirs.

 

 

- mD