Bayern played a high-intensity pressing game, very similar to what it did at home, preventing a Messi-less Barcelona from settling. The Catalans, in a nominal 4-3-3, enjoyed possession but failed to create chances as the German side kept its shape defensively.
Alex Song, in for an injured Sergio Busquets, was technically ill-equipped for the holding midfielder’s role and Andres Iniesta, playing deeper, possibly to counter Song’s inadequacies, failed to have a telling contribution.
Bayern relied on its wingers, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, to hit the opposition on the break. Ribery also admirably tracked back to deal with Barcelona’s right-back Dani Alves, who looked to bomb forward.
The Barca defence invariably moved to the right to cover the space left by Alves. And Robben exploited this, cutting inside on the other flank and winning most battles against left-back Adriano. Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic dropped deep to link play and offered very little space to the Barcelona midfield to complete a dominant performance.
The 7-0 mauling (aggregate) will have rattled the Spanish side. It needs an overhaul come summer. The stopgap central defensive arrangement can’t continue. A long-term replacement for senior pro Carles Puyol is a priority.
Barcelona also increasingly looks like a one-man team. With David Villa a shadow of his former self, Tito Vilanova can think of a classic No. 9 to free Messi from the goal-scoring burden.
The La Masia graduates should always be given preference but for the next season the side needs to buy an established central defender and a forward to reignite itself.