By FOX Sports Staff
The road to Wembley was expected to demonstrate the battle between two visions of football with Bavarian industry coming against Catalan panache. Instead, the Spaniards were shellshocked as the Germans were coming with a hunger and desire that saw them dismantle the visitors' gameplan from the first whistle.
Barca star Lionel Messi was man-marked for the entirety of the game and the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi were given little time to execute any dangerous forward passes. The marauding full-backs in Dani Alves and Jordi Alba were closed down at every opportunity and therefore Barca were rendered toothless for much of the encounter.
Jupp Heynckes' men used their aerial superiority to good effect and the long balls pumped forward to Mario Gomez allowed them to pin Barcelona to their own half. Furthermore, the Catalans' vulnerabilities during set pieces were expertly exploited and Gomez and Thomas Muller scored the opening two goals following well-taken corners.
Arjen Robben, who ran like a madman, scored a neat finish for the third, helped as he was by Muller's block on Jordi Alba, and the German added another with a tap-in late in the game.
If Pep Guardiola had been watching on from the sidelines, he might be facing a quandary as his new side showed that possession-based football can be countered with the right level of industry and discipline.
It was total defence at its best as the Bayern men were helped by their midfielders who tracked back and harried the Barcelona players at every opportunity.
Credit must still be given to Dante as the Brazilian was a colossus in defence, winning every header and intercepting numerous passes into the middle. Moreover, they were never caught off-guard by the constant runs down the right flank by Barcelona's Dani Alves and took little time to convert defence to attack with some accurate passes down the middle.
Neuer - 7 | Lahm - 8 | Dante - 8.5 | Alaba - 8 | Boateng - 8
Robben and Franck Ribery are arguably the best wingers in football at the moment as their lung-bursting runs caused numerous problems for the Barca defence. It was truly a sight to behold and would have even left Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt impressed.
The Dutchman was also handy with his set-piece deliveries and two of the many that he sent in resulted in goals for the home side, allowing them to deal an early psychological blow in both halves.
Furthermore, Javi Martinez demonstrated that not all Spaniards need to be tiny, lithe-footed midfielders in order to make an impact as he put in inch-perfect tackles that put the Barca midfielders under severe pressure.
Schweinsteiger - 8 | Martinez - 8 | Robben - 9 | Ribery - 8.5
Mario Mandzukic might have been the first-choice striker for Bayern for much of the season but Gomez showed exactly why he was one of the stars of Euro 2012 as he bossed the Barca defence with his height and strength.
Not known for his ability with the ball, Gomez still showed an admirable first touch that helped him hold up the ball and allow his team-mates the time to rampage forward and join him on the counter-attack.
He was also helped by the irrepressible Muller who was involved in all of Bayern's goals on the night. This did, however, include an unsportsmanlike block on Alba that prevented the full-back from closing down Robben before the latter could fire in his 73rd-minute goal.
Muller - 8 | Gómez.-8.5
Heynckes was also smart in his choice of substitutions as he promptly brought off Gomez after the striker, who had been cautioned earlier, had weighed in with his contribution. Bringing on Luiz Gustavo was also a masterstroke as the defender's fresh legs ensure that the German side could carry on pressing at a high tempo that left the visitors harangued and exhausted.
It also helped free up David Alaba and the Austrian promptly rushed forward to join the attack and swung in a cross from the right that led to the second of Muller's goals in the 82nd minute.
Gustavo (on 71') - 7.5 | Pizarro (on 83') - N/A | Shaqiri (on 88') - N/A
Barcelona's defence simply could not match up to the pace, energy and strength displayed by their opponents and they even underestimated Bayern's ability to wreak havoc from set pieces.
Victor Valdes had a poor outing but there was not much that the Spaniard could do as his defence just did not keep a close watch on the Bayern attackers.
It didn't help that Alves was repeatedly used as an outlet for attack with the full-back going forward with alarming regularity, leaving space behind him for Ribery to exploit.
Marc Bartra might be a talented young defender but his inexperience proved to be his side's undoing and he conceded corners far too regularly as he could not handle the task of marking the mercurial Gomez. Ultimately, Barcelona were punished for their inability to take care of the long balls sent in Gomez's direction and the youngster, as well as his fellow defenders, demonstrated poor positioning during corners.
Valdés - 5 | Alves - 5 | Piqué - 6 | Bartra - 4 | Alba - 4
With three red shirts surrounding them at all times, Xavi and Iniesta struggled to get a clear sight of the pitch and were therefore forced to pass back repeatedly, thereby stifling the momentum of the Barca attacks.
Moreover, they demonstrated a clear lack of tactical flexibility as many of their passes were directed towards the same players, making it easy for the Bayern players to make the interceptions and sliding challenges required to win back the ball.
Also, the Barca midfielders could not carry out any effective runs as they were cleanly tackled by the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Martinez down the flanks.
Xavi - 5 | Busquets - 4 | Iniesta - 5
Any hopes of Lionel Messi turning the game on its head were quickly doused as the Argentinean was not given the time or the space from the very first minute. The home side were aware that Messi's superb decision-making and burst of speed could not be allowed to come into play and he was promptly marked by two players at all times.
Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez were also ineffectual as support acts as the duo were always in the wrong positions and rifled in crosses from the wings that, more often than not, were sent into an empty box.
Pedro (off 83') - 4 | Messi - 5 | Alexis - 4
Opting to start with an unfit Lionel Messi instead of David Villa turned out to be a disastrous decision as the forward was left isolated upfront as his team-mates were muscled off the ball well before they could reach the attacking third.
Tito Villanova also took an age to decide to bring on the striker and he really should have been bolder and brought off Messi in the second half and beefed up the defence in order to try and sneak away with a smaller deficit.
Instead, he now faces the arduous, and probably futile, task of trying to mastermind a comeback from four goals down. It should prove to be an impossible quest as no side has ever lost the first leg of a Champions League tie by such a scoreline and still managed to progress to the next round.
Villa (on 83') - N/A