Barcelona's dream of reaching another Champions League final at Wembley Stadium was crushed after a Thomas Muller brace, plus a goal each from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben completed a 4-0 victory for Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The game was billed as Bayern Munich’s chance to finally end Barcelona’s recent European domination - and they did it emphatically.
Bayern Munich have dethroned Barcelona.
Barcelona are only six points away from sealing another La Liga title in Tito Vilanova’s first season after taking over from Pep Guardiola, who will become Bayern manager in July, but find themselves on the verge of elimination at the semi-final stage of the Champions League just like they did in the Copa del Rey.
Every team has the occasional thrashing but the manner in which Barcelona succumbed to a defeat in Germany will leave many wondering whether Barcelona are still the top team they were a few years ago - especially without a fully-fit Lionel Messi.
In the second leg of the quarter-finals, Barcelona failed to impress against PSG without Messi at his best and only went through on away goals.
On Wednesday, Barcelona were absolutely poor against Bayern Munich as a half-fit Messi couldn’t inspire his team to victory. The Argentina international endured the worst 90 minutes of his career. He never seemed to find his feet throughout the game and quite frankly made Barcelona look a man down.
So, what must Barcelona do to claim their throne again?
Anyone will tell you that Barcelona’s defence has been average at best this season. Dani Alves, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba are all world-class players. However, Barcelona’s main problem has been Pique’s partner at the back.
Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra and Eric Abidal are all options but with Puyol and Abidal approaching the twilight of their careers, Barcelona will have to sign a world-class defender like Mats Hummels or Vincent Kompany if they are to challenge Europe’s elite again.
After going 2-0 down, Barcelona were in desperate need of an away goal but, unlike their German opponents that have a bountiful array of talents upfront, could only turn to an ageing David Villa, who seems to be past his best.
Barcelona will need to invest in a goalscoring forward to share the goals with Lionel Messi. Perhaps Gareth Bale or Neymar? Maybe even Marco Reus?
Barcelona boast the best midfield in world football but are over-reliant on Messi. Sign a defender and an attacker and they could regain their stronghold on Europe again - but until then, more nights like this will follow.
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