No surprises here. It will be an all-German Champions League final at Wembley three weeks on Saturday.
In emphatic, persuasive fashion, Bayern Munich sealed the deal begun by Borussia Dortmund in Madrid on Tuesday as all of last week’s claims about the baton passing from La Liga and the Premier League to the Bundesliga had their credibility enhanced.
Barcelona had needed some sorcery to overcome the 4-0 lead Bayern raced to in the first leg but for magic you need a magician, and Lionel Messi was on the bench.
Wembley, here we come: Arjen Robben (centre) celebrates after opening the scoring at the Nou Camp
Fussball’s coming home: Bayern secured an all-German Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund
No stopping that: Robben (out of picture, right) cut inside and curled a brilliant finish into the far corner
Hamstrung: Lionel Messi (right) was left on the bench despite Barca’s need to overturn a four-goal deficit
Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Bartra (Montoya 87), Adriano, Xavi (Sanchez 55), Song, Iniesta (Thiago 64), Villa, Fabregas, Pedro.
Subs not used: Pinto, Messi, Jonathan, Montoya, Tello.
Booked: Dani Alves, Pique
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm (Rafinha 77), Boateng, Van Buyten, Alaba, Javi Martinez (Tymoschuk 74), Schweinsteiger, (Gustavo 66) Robben, Muller, Ribery, Mandzukic.
Subs not used: Starke, Dante, Shaqiri,Gomez.
Goals: Robben 49, Pique o.g. 72, Muller 76
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Without Messi any team would be inferior and it is no different for Barcelona, even if they still had Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
But those two were substituted shortly after Arjen Robben had made the aggregate scoreline 5-0 in the 48th minute.
Gerard Pique then scored an own goal and Thomas Muller’s header made it 3-0 on the night with 15 minutes left. The Nou Camp has witnessed teams being outplayed many times — just not Barca. Indeed, it is the first time their side have lost both legs of a European tie since 1987, when the opponents were Dundee United.
Bayern looked a good team last season in reaching the Champions League final on their own turf. Now they look very good. Strong and skilful, quick but patient, Bastian Schweinsteiger personifies the Jupp Heynckes team soon to be taken over by Pep Guardiola. Schweinsteiger was immense.
This will be their third final in four years and after defeats by Inter Milan and Chelsea, there will surely be belief that this is their year. They last won the European Cup 12 years ago, beating Valencia on penalties.
That’s all we kneed: Gerard Pique (third right) scored an embarrassing own goal in the second half
Hang your head: Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes screams in frustration after Pique’s gaffe
Salt in the wounds: Bayern’s Thomas Muller (centre left) headed in a third goal late on
The warm Catalan day began with optimism: Barca had to cancel out a four-goal lead just to take the game to extra-time, but the statistics said that on 84 occasions in the last four seasons Barcelona had scored four. Moreover, 59 of those had been at the Nou Camp and 14 in the Champions League.
Against that was the ominous record of Bayern: it was over a year since they last failed to score on the road. And that was before the Messi news. If as Pique said on Tuesday, ‘football is very psychological’, it was advantage Bavaria before a ball was kicked.
‘Proud of Barca!’: Barcelona’s fans packed out the Nou Camp in the hope of seeing a comeback
London calling: Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (left) and his team-mates have a final date
The absence of Messi from the starting XI meant Heynckes could leave three of the six players he had on yellow cards on the bench — Dante, Luis Gustavo and Mario Gomez. Messi’s omission also meant that Fabregas was Barca’s No 9, or ‘false 9’.
There was one authentic striker, David Villa. But when he was robbed of the ball in the seventh minute by David Alaba, Bayern went on an 80-yard move featuring Philipp Lahm and Schweinsteiger that revealed the confidence of the visitors, not the menace of the hosts.
Crowded out: Andres Iniesta (right) attempts to shoot past Daniel van Buyten and Jerome Boateng
No way past: Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (left) saves a shot from distance
Heated: Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes (right) talks to midfielder Franck Ribery
There had already been a couple of unusually tentative touches from Barca players and the sense that Bayern felt un-intimidated grew when Schweinsteiger set Robben free behind the back four. It required a last-ditch tackle by Pique to prevent Robben scoring. And it was only the 11th minute.
It would be the 23rd before Manuel Neuer was forced to make a save, from a 25-yard drive by Villa.
The crowd roared approval but this was a different atmosphere to the previous night in Madrid.
The decibel level then reflected the expectation in the air; here they needed a first-half breakthrough more and one problem was Bayern’s obvious desire to score and kill off the remote chance of a Barcelona triumph.
What’s gone wrong? Gerard Pique, David Villa and Cesc Fabregas were left scratching their heads
Going down: Marc Bartra comes off second best in a challenge with Mario Mandzukic
Eye on the ball: Pique closes down Bastian Schweinsteiger
The effect was that Barca had to go forward looking over their shoulder; they were also confronted by massed defence when they did. And the man for that situation was on the bench.
That is where Messi stayed after half-time. Within three minutes of the restart, the point of him coming off it was all but gone.
Robben’s left foot may not be Messi’s but it is pretty deft and when he cut inside in that trademark fashion two Barca defenders, balanced perfectly, it was clear Robben was going to bend the ball towards the far corner. He did so, and Valdes was beaten.
All that morning Catalan optimism was buried and now there was a question as to whether the new German champions would ram home their superiority.
Robben and Muller promptly fluffed promising openings. They were just about the only two mistakes Bayern made across two legs.