Guardiola’s Nou Camp return party spoiled by Messi


Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich are almost out of the Champions League as a certain Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona put 3 goals past the world’s best goalkeeper and take control of the tie.

Guardiola’s fabled return to Barcelona, to the lair of the beast which he himself created turned into a nightmare. Bayern and Barcelona have been the two best teams in the Champions League this season. No other team played with such dominance and confidence as these two.

On one side, the German giants who won the Bundesliga for the 25th time with 4 games to spare came into this match after losing 2 on the trot. Call it complacency or….well I think it was complacency only, Bayern Munich’s domestic aspirations has been fulfilled and they set their sights on the Champions League.

Pep took the club from Jupp Heynckes who left the after winning the treble. So how to achieve something when everything has been already won ?

Simple, win it again. But unfortunately, a dream of the treble has already been dashed when they lost the semi-finals of the German Cup to their rivals Dortmund, so Pep Guardiola had to push for Champions League success. Failure in Europe would be disaster for the German club.

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On the other hand, Barcelona has been in prolific form after New Year. Luis Enrique had a difficult start to his Barcelona career where he fell out with players. But post 2015, his team has been playing like they are possessed. The front 3 of Messi, Neymar and Suarez establishing themselves as the best forward line in the world, and along with attacking Enrique’s Barcelona also became defensively astute.

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These two stalwarts up against each other is treat for the football neutrals. Both the teams played a tactically well drilled game where no one leaving any gaps for the other to exploit.

When teams go to Nou Camp, they set up shop to absorb the Barcelona pressure, but Pep set out his team to play expansive football against the fluidity of Barcelona which was a brave move.

Also, Bayern were missing two of their main first team players in the form of Ribery and Robben who could have changed the dynamics on the wings, while Barcelona were at full strength. Thus, Bayern did not offer much when going on the attack. Most of the game was played out in midfield, with Barcelona doing most of the attacking and the Germans defending their goal.

Over the course of the game, it was expected that Barcelona would eventually make a breakthrough and that came in the form of Leo Messi beating Neuer at his near post to take Barcelona one up.

If this was termed as beautiful, then the second goal was more sublime and it personified Messi’s ‘Best Player in the World’ status. Cutting past Jerome Boateng with ease and just lobbed the German goalkeeper to put the ball into the net with pristine accuracy. It was according to me one of the best goals I have ever seen from the Argentinean prodigy.

The icing on the cake was done by Neymar as he scored an easy goal courtesy of a Messi assist which took all the defenders out of the game.

With a 3-0 scoreline it can be said the tie is done and dusted. But, what makes this tie so interesting is that both the teams are dominating at home. We have seen the Catalan dominance at Nou Camp, so are we on course to see a Bayern pulling one of the best comebacks of all time at home ? Pep won’t give up that easily that is for sure.

But suffice to say, he was defeated by the same brute he created.

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