MADRID, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Bayern Munich all but assured their place in the final of the Champions League with a crushing 4- 0 win over FC Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night.
Barca need a miracle to reach the final as the Catalans were blown away by Bayern's pace and power and need a miracle next Wednesday in the Camp Nou if they are to overturn the two goals scored by Thomas Muller, plus those of Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben on a magnificent night for last year's beaten finalists.
The big news for Barcelona before the game was the return of Leo Messi to their starting 11 after the Argentinean had missed the past two league matches with a hamstring injury, and Marc Bartra's inclusion at center half alongside Gerard Pique. However, as events would show, perhaps Messi should have been left out as he did not look fit and hardly came into contact with the ball.
Bayern, who have already assured the German league title for this season, were able to put a powerful 11 on the pitch with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in central midfield and Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben, Frank Ribert and Thomas Muller in attack.
Roared on by a packed and noisy crowd in the Allianz Arena, Bayern went for the game from the very first minute and their powerhouse midfield was able to disrupt Barca's passing game, while isolating the strikers: Barca keeper, Victor Valdes was in action as soon as the second minute when he had to save from Robben.
The German side appealed from a penalty after 17 minutes when Philipp Lahm's shot hit Pique on the arm and the defender was fortunate the referee was unable to see the contact.
Bayern had not created many clear chances despite their control but opened the corner after 24 minutes when Barca failed to clear a corner and Muller was able to bundle home a header at the far post.
The lead was well deserved and although they failed to create more clear chances, Bayern never looked to be in trouble as Messi struggled to get involved and his fellow strikers, Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez were also reduced to fringe rolls.
The second half kicked off with Martinez seeing a yellow card that will keep him out of the return leg, but that bad news for Bayern was left in the background when Gomez netted Bayern's second following a corner, although he looked to be offside when he latched onto Muller's knockdown at the far post.
Ribery went close soon after as Bayern looked as if they could run away with things, although inspired by Andres Iniesta Barca looked to battle back, but without forcing Manuel Neuer to extend himself and Bayern Robben made it 3-0 to Bayern as he finished off a counter-attack from a narrow angle.
Barca complained about the goal as it Muller clearly obstructed Jordi Alba as the Barca defender looked to challenge Robben just before his scored, but they could have no complaints when Muller made it 4-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Ribery opened the ball to the wing and Muller was on hand to score from close range as Barca and their European dream fell to pieces.