The all-German final is set and the transfer of power is all but complete. Bayern Munich have not just beaten Barcelona. They have humbled the history books and carved out a chance to secure their own immortality.
Bayern Munich continued their impressive assault on Europe with a 3-0 defeat of Barcelona on Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal at Barcelona's Camp Nou. Coupled with last week's 4-0 victory in Munich, Bayern easily advanced to their second straight Champions League final, where they will try to set right the wrongs of last season while writing a bit of footballing history.
Already record-setting champions of Germany's Bundesliga, Bayern remain alive in the German cup as well and thus have a chance to win a historic treble of trophies this season. As imposing as they have been domestically, Bayern's destruction of consecutive European opponents has been even more staggering.
After receiving a scare from Arsenal in the Round of 16, Bayern blew away Juventus in the quarterfinals, making Antonio Conte's Italian champions-elect appear average. In the semifinals, Bayern did that and more to Barcelona and superstar striker Lionel Messi, winning 7-0 on aggregate.
Messi did not play in Wednesday's second leg, but his presence might not have made a difference. Bayern's dominance was thorough, and even Messi's magic might not have been enough.
Arjen Robben sealed it with a 48th-minute winner following a scoreless first half. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique made it 2-0 with an own goal in the 72nd minute, and Thomas Muller headed in Bayern's third four minutes later.
Bayern's last European campaign reached the same stage but ended in disappointment on home soil as Chelsea secured an improbable first title in club history. This time Jupp Heynckes' team will again play the role of favorites, but on current form, it's hard to see beyond a Bavarian triumph.
5 – In the last five years either Barca or the team to beat them has won the CL (Chelsea 2012, Inter 2010, Man Utd 2008). Bayern? #fcbfcb5/1/2013, 4:50:09 PM
The last time Bayern conceded in the Champions League, it was the second leg of the Round of 16 and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny was the scorer. As of kickoff Wednesday night, that was 275 minutes of game time in the past.
Barca rarely looked like scoring Wednesday, and by the time halftime arrived with the score 0-0, the tie was all but over. The second half, which showcased Bayern's goals and ever-increasing confidence, played out like a coronation.
And why not? Barcelona were widely considered the best team in the world for much of the past half-decade. But on Wednesday, mighty Barca were only another team made to look ordinary by Bayern's all-conquering side.
By beating Barcelona, Bayern Munich have now staked their claim to that title. And with former Barca manager Pep Guardiola set to take over as manager following Heynckes' retirement, there seems to be no limit to what is possible.
Wembley is next, and it is a brave soul who would bet against the Bavarians.
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