Newspapers show jubilation after historic win over Catalan giants.
Bayern Munich’s phenomenal 4-0 rout of Champions League favourites Barcelona had the German press reaching for the superlatives on Wednesday.
“Bayern ridicule Barca,” trumpeted the country’s biggest-selling popular paper Bild over a photo of two-goal hero Thomas Mueller celebrating the famous victory with jubilant team-mates Mario Gomez and Franck Ribery.
“Bayern’s Messi is called Mueller”, the tabloid announced.
In more sober vein, the serious Munich-based broadsheet Sueddeutschen Zeitung also made reference to Messi when it claimed: “Bayern get the better of the world’s best footballer.”
Merkur Muenchener, another Bavarian daily, also splashed with a photo of Mueller celebrating and dubbed Bayern “unstoppable” after such a “historic victory”.
The football weekly Kicker said Bayern “slapped down Barca” and had one foot in the final to be played at Wembley in London on May 25.
But it was a predictably different story in Spain.
The Catalan press were left to reflect on a historic and hurtful night for Barcelona as they saw their dreams of a third Champions League final in six years almost certainly disappear.
However, as shocking as the manner of the defeat was given Barca’s consistency in recent times, there was also a symmetry to the result.
It was Barca’s biggest European defeat since Johann Cruyff’s hugely successful era of the early 1990s came apart in a 4-0 defeat to AC Milan in the 1994 European Cup final in Athens.
It also saw Bayern avenge a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the Catalans in 2009 when in Pep Guardiola’s first year in charge Barca went on to win the treble.
“The saddest night,” ran the headline in Barcelona sports daily Sport.
The other Barcelona sports daily Mundo Deportivo was in similar mood as they described the evening as a “nightmare” and a “historic blow.”
Bayern, they said, “confirmed their candidacy to win the Champions League at Wembley and returned the 4-0 given to them by Barca four years ago.”
Amongst the many questions being asked was why World Player of the Year Lionel Messi played when he appeared not to be fit having just returned from a hamstring injury and why manager Tito Vilanova failed to make a single substitution until Bayern scored their fourth goal in the 82nd minute.
“This result has an impact with consequences that will be costly for Barca. It opens many doubts and the first is their manager and his inability yesterday to respond,” wrote Albert Masnou in Sport.
“Without Messi, this was an empty Barca,” said Mundo Deportivo.
The Madrid sports dailies Marca and AS meanwhile pondered whether after six consecutive appearances in the Champions League semi-finals, Barca were now in decline.
“A historic beating,” ran Marca’s front page, adding that “this great Barca showed in Munich their clear signs of decline.”
“The best team in Europe were a shadow of themselves and fell heavily against a Bayern that drew the colour from an opponent with a complete incapacity to react. There was no excuse,” one commentator wrote on the inside pages.
Elsewhere, AS said the defeat was a sign of wider failings at the club, including a loss of faith and lack of leadership.
“Barca lost 4-0, but with this they lost something more: they lost their incontestable credibility,” it added.
The one thing all four papers agreed on was that despite claims all of Bayern’s first three goals could easily have been ruled out by referee Victor Kassai, Barca could not lay the blame at his door.
“Not even the disastrous refereeing of Kassai that allowed three goals that weren’t could excuse the azulgrana,” said Mundo Deportivo.
Marca meanwhile claimed that “the best thing about Kassai was that he prejudiced both teams”.