Rampant Bayern Munich all but booked their place in the final with an astonishingly complete display that left Barcelona looking like also-rans
That's all from me. Thanks for your time and your emails - and if you've nothing better to do, please join me for tomorrow night's semi-final first leg between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid at the mighty stadium that is the Westfalenstadion ... which I'll be reporting on from as grotty Kings Cross crawl-space. Bah!
ITV pundit Roy Keane speaks: Bayern Munich were powerful, they were strong, they were quick on the break," he says. "That was one of the most complete performances I've seen for a very long time."
90+3 min: Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeepp! It's all over and it's no exaggeration to say that Barcelona have been ripped a new one, this evening. They had no answers for a rampant Bayern Munich team who knocked them for four. It's fair to say that two Bayern goals might have been chalked off, but they were unquestionably the better team on a night when their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was little more than a spectator and Barcelona's star striker Lionel Messi looked little more than a facsimile of his former self.
90+2 min: Shaqiri plays the ball wide towards Arjen Robben on the right flank and the winger tries to curl the ball into the top left-hand corner. It takes a wicked deflection and threatens to loop under the cross-bar before going out for a corner. Schweinsteiger takes it, Barcelona clear and the referee puts his whistle to his lips ...
90 min: Having conceded a throw-in, Jordi Alba petulantly throws the ball in the face of Arjen Robben from point-blank range. Astonishingly, the Dutchman doesn't go to ground and that just might be what saves the Barcelona full-back from getting the red card he deserves. He's booked instead and will have to sit out the second leg through suspension.
89 min: Bayern Munich substitution: Franck Ribery off. Enter Shaqiri. That's Xherdan Shaqiri, to you.
86 min: Alexis Sanchez gets booked for a foul on Arjen Robben. Soon afterwards, Bastian Schweinsteiger is booked too, but I'm not sure why. I suspect it might have been for dissent after being flagged for offside. That yellow's been a long time coming - Schweinsteiger's been fouling repeatedly.
Substitutions: For Bayern Munich, Thomas Muller leaves to a standing ovation and is replaced by Claudio Pizarro. For Bayern Munich, Pedro makes way for David Villa.
GOAL! Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona (Muller 82) The man of the match slides into the six-yard box to get on the end of a David Alaba cross from the left and smash the ball into the back of the net. Bayern Munich are four goals to no score up against Barcelona in the home leg of the Champions League semi-final. Barcelona are being made to look like a pub team here. They're being destroyed.
79 min: Thomas Muller goes close to extending Bayern's lead, bringing a smart save out of Valdes, who can only parry the ball towards Arjen Robben, whose first-time long-range effort is blocked. With the ball still pinging around the fringes of the Barcelona penalty area, the referee stops play to allow medical attention on for Dani Alves, who was hurt as he tried to stop Schweinsteiger playing the ball towards Robben.
75 min: In a great position to pull a goal back for his beleaguered side, Marc Bartra fires hopelessly high and wide from about seven yards out, with the goal at his mercy. It's head-in-hands time for the fourth or fifth choice centre-back.
75 min: Barcelona had a man extra on the overlap and Ribery charged down the centre before playing the ball right and wide to Robben on the right flank. He cut inside and as Alba went to block him, the Barcelona full-back was clearly body-checked by Thomas Muller, leaving Robben acres of space into which to roam before unleashing his shot. The goal-line official, who was standing three yards away, may well have pressed his buzzer and mentioned it to the ref, but it seems inconceivable the referee would have ignored his counsel considering how well placed he was to see the foul.
GOAL! Bayern Munich 3-0 Barcelona (Robben 73) I've defended those blokes with the wands behind the goal to the hilt, but I'm not going to attempt it here. Thomas Muller acts as blocker, taking Jordi Alba out of the game to leave a clear corridor of certainty for Arjen Robben to sally down from an inside-right position, before slotting the ball past Valdes into the bottom left-hand corner.
73 min: It's five v four as Bayern Munich embark on a counter-attack ...
70 min: Bayern Munich substitution: Mario Gomez makes way for Luiz Gustavo. He'll sit in alongside Javi Martinez in front of the back four, with Bastian Schweinsteiger moving further up the field.
68 min: Lionel Messi rides a challenge just inside the Bayern Munich penalty area when a lesser, more cunning man might have gone down and asppealed for a penalty. The ball ends up going for a corner, from which Bartra gets a shot on goal. Neuer makes the save. That's Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who I don't recall mentioning once since kick-off.
65 min: Alexis Sanchez sends a cross looping across the face of goal when his team-mates were lined up on the edge of the penalty area, waiting for a pull-back. That pretty much sums up Barca's evening in a nutshell.
64 min: With regard to the many e-mailers claiming to be certain that Gomes was offside and the many others claiming claiming he was not, Michael Bertin has this to say: "Perhaps you could shove them all inside a Schröedinger box and they could all be half right until we bother to look." Alternatively, we could just leave them in the box and never bother to look!
62 min: Jordi Alba gets in behind the Bayern Munich and tries to set up a tap-in for Messi with a low drive across the face of goal. He makes a dog's breakfast of the pass, scuffing his effort and allowing Dante to clear for a corner.
60 min: Bayern Munich break on the counter-attack and Arjen Robben tries to play the ball in behind the defence for Franck Ribery to charge on to. His pass is too leaden and Victor Valdes is first out to the ball. It's strange to see Barcelona looking so vulnerable. Strange and a little heart-warming, I don't mind saying.
58 min: Barcelona enjoy a rare spell of sustained possession in this second half and advance into the Bayern Munich penalty area. Alexis Sanchez is shepherded out towards the corner flag and eventually forced to pass backwards to Andres Iniesta.
57 min: Alves fouls Muller to concede a free-kick for Bayern Munich, wide on the left. Bastian Schweinsteiger sends the ball towards the far post, where Barcelona's defence is once again out-jumped. Arjen Robben wins a clean header, but sends it wide from about 12 yards.
56 min: Ha! The emails are flooding in, many of them from readers who are certain Gomes was offside for the goal and many others from readers who are equally certain he wasn't. You can't all be right!
55 min: Barcelona are on the ropes here - Arjen Robben plays the ball to Franck Ribery across the face of the Barca penalty area when he might have had a pop himself. With plenty of goal to aim at, Ribery shimmies one way, then the other, before sending a low diagonal effort past the far post and wide. He should have scored there.
53 min: I've seen two more replays of that Gomes goal and still can't tell if he was offside or not. Who'd be a linesman or bloke-with-the-wand, eh?
51 min: Thomas Muller goes an arcing run across the face of the penalty area and tries to send a low drive towards the bottom left-hand corner. Wide.
GOAL! Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona (Gomes 48) Who needs penalties when you're so superior in the air and winning lots of corners? Mario Gomes prods Bayern further ahead from two yards out after Thomas Muller had headed Arjen Robben's corner across the face of goal from the far post. There's a suspicion of offside there, but I've seen it twice and still can't be certain if Gomes strayed off or not. Barcelona are in big trouble here.
48 min: Martinez appeals for another penalty for handball after Marc Bartra shoulders the ball out for a corner.
Second half: We're off, with no changes on any either side, as far as I can tell.
Interesting this: It's just the centre-circle that's waterlogged and replays of the kick-off show it's swamp-like. "On German TV they are saying that they forgot the Champions League logo in the middle of the pitch when turning on the sprinklers," writes Jörn Gillys-Niemeyer. "So it is 'only' the middle circle." Eh? This thickie at the back doesn't understand that at all. Surely if they forgot the logo ... ah, never mind.
Roy Keane speaks: "Well that's what we expected from Bayern ... their physical strength has caused problems for Barcelona and we expected them to be good on the counter-attack and from set pieces. It's a no-brainer - if you put the ball in the right areas, Bayern's players will out-jump Barcelona's smaller players."
Gareth Southgate: "Bayern are physically such a good side and their shape has been excellent. Barcelona are weak on corners, but they don't normally let other teams get any. Bayern Munich have had eight."
Lee Dixon: Praises Bayern's tactics and explains how they've been pressing Barcelona when they have the ball deep in their own half, but sit back and let them come at them once Barcelona get the ball to the halfway line. Points out that they've been keeping their shape well.
Half-time: The referee blows for half-time and Bayern Munich go in for their bratwurst and pils a goal to the good. They've played well tonight, managing to disrupt Barcelona's rhythm and keep their shape well. Thomas Muller has been a constant thorn in in Barca's side, playing off Mario Gomes, making a series of surging runs through the centre and opening the scoring with a goal that Victor Valdes will probably feel he should have kept out.
45 min: Dani Alves goes on one of his trademark hurtles down the right flank, attempts to cut inside and miscontrols, only to be dispossessed by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
42 min: The games got a bit scrappy in recent minutes and is being punctuated by a series of niggly fouls. Bayern Munich are well worth their one-goal lead and Barcelona have every reason to feel a mite concerned.
38 min: Another yellow card, this time for Barcelona centre-half Marc Bartra for a wild leap into the back of Thomas Muller. That was a bit dim-witted - he'll have to be very careful for the next 50 minutes.
37 min: Gomez is involved again, picking up the first yellow card of the evening for a foul on Lionel Messi, who's very quiet tonight. That might coax him out of his shell, or indeed send him further into it.
35 min: Pedro is tripped just outside the right-hand side of the Bayern penalty area by Dante and appeals for a free-kick, but doesn't get one. Moments later, Bayern force a corner off Sergio Busquets courtesy of Mario Gomez, but nothing comes of it.
33 min:There's another huge penalty shout from Bayern Munich when a Franck Ribery corner hits Alexis Sanchez's arm as he jumped to contest the header with Dante. Considering the ball was coming through a crowded penalty area and Sanchez didn't seem to know a thing about it, I'd say the referee was correct to keep his whistle in his hand and his arm by his side.
27 min: Dante comes perilously close to poking the ball past his own goalkeeper, doing splendidly to slide in and put the ball out for a corner when Lionel Messi was lurking unmarked and ready to sweep home a cross from the right.
25 min: Well, well well! The goal came from a corner, which Franck Ribery took and actually over-hit, sending the ball sailing past the far post. Arjen Robben clipped it back across the face of goal, where Dante towered above Dani Alves and returned it with a header, allowing the unmarked Muller to bow and head past Valdes, who might have done better. From corner quadrant, to far post, to the other far post and back again.
GOAL! Bayern Munich 1-0 Barcelona (Muller 24) Thomas Muller stoops to head the ball past Victor Valdes from close range at the far post. The ball hits the goalkeeper, who is unable to do enough to stop it from crossing the line.
23 min: Brian Furlong wasn't exaggerating a great deal when he said the pitch was water-logged. Bayern Munich were definitely playing fast and loose with their sprinklers ahead of this game, although I'm not sure how much of an effect it's having on Barcelona's play.
20 min: Barcelona continue to enjoy the majority of possession, but don't do much with it. Marc Bartra gives away possession with a loose pass and Bayern go on the attack and win themselves a corner. The ball's sent in to the penalty area by Arjen Robben, where Victor Valdes punches clear.
18 min: "We've 2 "You're the ref" scenarios so far tonight," writes Brian Furlong. "The home team water the pitch so much it is water logged. What do you do? The attacker heads the ball out over the end line but it brushes the defender's (Dante) massive hair. What do you give?"
15 min: Philipp Lahm tries a shot from distance, but his effort is blocked by Gerard Pique and goes out for a corner from which nothing comes. The ball hit Pique's arm, prompting inevitable appeals for a penalty, but none is forthcoming. Replays suggest Bayern were hard done by - I've seen penalties given for a lot less.
13 min: Barcelona continue to seek an opening, getting forward 10 or 15 yards every now and then, before being forced back towards the halfway line. After about two minutes without a single Bayern player getting a sniff of the ball, Dani Alves finally cedes possession when he tries and fails to pick out Sanchez at the far post.
12 min: Barcelona attempt to build from the back again, but are pinned back on the halfway line by relentless pressing from assorted Bayern Munich players.
10 min: With the midfield congested by the footballing equivalent of two swarms of bees going toe-to-toe, so to speak, Pique sends a cross from one touchline to another in a bid to open the play and pick out Dani Alves, who's on the gallop up the right flank. The pass is too weighty and bounces out of play.
8 min: Barcelona win a corner, which Hernandez sends floating towards the far post. Gerard Pique beats Dante in the air, but directs a weak header wide of the left upright.
7 min: This match has got off to a lively start and no miostake. The balls being pinged around pinball-style at a rate of knots - neither team is giving their opponnants a second to settle on the ball. There'll be no Mourinho-style bus-parking in front of either goal tonight.
5 min: Bayern Munich win a corner and the ball's sent into the mixer by Franck Ribery. Jordi Alba nudges Javi Martinez in the back, but no penalty kick is forthcoming.
3 min: Bayern Munich go close to opening the scoring with Arjen Robben running on to a splendid Javi Martinez back-heel along the right-hand side of the penalty area and bringing a smart save out of Victor Valdes with his low effort from close range.
2 min: With 1min 06sec on the clock, Bayern Munich get their first touch of the ball since giving it away shortly after kick-off, courtesy of a clearing header from left-back David Alaba.
1 min: Bayern Munich kick off. Barcelona are playing from left to right, with their combatants wearing the usual home kit, despite being the visitors. Bayern Munich, the hosts, wear red shirts, shorts and socks, with yellow trim.
The Allianz Arena is, unsurprisingly, wedged and appears to be hopping courtesy of fans desperate for their team to go some way towards putting last year's home choke against Chelsea in the final behind them.
The teams are marching down the steps of what doesn't look so much like as a tunnel as a well appointed underground train station and making their way out on to the pitch.
"I'm glad that Zachary Gomperts-Mitchelson tried so hard to avoid sounding like an insufferable pedant," he writes. "It would have set an appalling tone this early in the MBM. On an unrelated note, I think he probably meant 'fewer superpowers'."
... and ITV's coverage has finally started. From one soap opera to another: Adrian Chiles is directing this one, with Lee Dixon, Gareth Southgate and Roy Keane making up the cast of pundits standing on the Allianz Arena sward.
"Interesting passing stats," writes the mercifully single-barreled Robert Gilmour. "I suppose that means without Robben in the Bayern team they would probably be shading it. Enjoy the game!"
This could be a long night of long surnames. "Let me completely fail to avoid sounding like an insufferable pedant by saying that Zachary Gomperts-Mitchelson succintly said what we were all thinking, except that Dortmund won the Champions' League in 1997, not 1996," he writes.
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Schweinsteiger, Martinez; Robben, Muller, Ribéry; Gomez
Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Bartra, Pique, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Alexis.
"Now, I know you said arguably, and trying, admittedly not that hard, to avoid sounding like an insufferable pedant, but surly the biggest game in Dortmund's history has got to be the Champions League final against Juventus that they won in 1996?" he says, making a point that can only be described as fair.
"On Gotze I find it really sad that he's going to Bayern," he continues. Dortmund were fantastic but with him going it's hard to avoid the feeling that they might start to fade from the scene a little. Kagawa, Sahin, Gotze and possibly Lewondowski in successive years is a hell of a lot of spine to run from a team. Less super-powers and more interesting teams is something football has forgotten how to do. Bayern are superlative, they don't need Gotze, they are out to weaken a rival and it's such a shame they can."
Leo Messi remains an injury concern, but the chatter emanating from the Barcelona camp suggests certainty to play some role, possibly from the start, tonight. With Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano out through injury, Marc Batra seems likely to start in the centre of defence alongside Gerard Piqiue. Despite Eric Abidal's heartwarming return to fitness, tonight's match would be a step too far for the cancer survivor who recently returned from a liver transplant.
Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber are both out injured, which means Arjen Robben looks a certainty to start on the right wing, with Thomas Muller in the centre of midfield. Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic misses out through suspension after picking up fairly unjustified yellow cards in each of his side's quarter-final wins against Juventus and is likely to be replaced by Mario Gomez or Claudio Pizarro.
Welcome to tonight's fascinating Champions League semi-final first leg between Bayern Munich and Barcelona, a tie beautifully described by my colleague the Blizzard-editing (subscribe here) award-winning author (buy here) Jonathan Wilson as "Pep past against Pep future in a Pep-less present that could mark the transition from one generation to the next". That shameless charlatan is always stealing my best lines ... usually before I think of them.
The build-up to what seems certain to be an incredible tie has been rather overshadowed by today's announcement of Mario Götze's imminent move to Bayern Munich on the eve of the biggest fixture in the history of his current club, Borussia Dortmund. Irate fans (are there any other kind these days?) of Jürgen Klopp's side have taken to the attacking midfielder's Facebook page to accuse him of treachery, which is less than ideal preparation ahead of Dortmund's semi-final first leg against Real Madrid tomorrow night, arguably the biggest fixture in the German club's history.
Meanwhile in Munich, Sid Lowe has been reporting on how Barcelona are sweating over the fitness of their atomic flea Lionel Messi ahead of tonight's match, while our egg-headed tactician Michael "Zonal Marking" Cox has been providing his insights into how tonight's encounter might unfold."Barcelona may not be European champions, but they remain the side to beat," he says, going on to suggest that "more than at any time in the previous five years, there’s a decent chance Barcelona will be outplayed at their own game in the European Cup."
Like pretty much everyone else, I can only hazard a wild guess as to which way tonight's match will go, but although plenty of folk expect Bayern Munich to prevail, the contrarian in me simply can't ignore the mouthwatering odds of nearly 3-1 available against Barcelona beating them in their own back yard tonight.