It’s a game of players

Bayern Munich’s 3-0 thrashing of Barcelona on Wednesday night and their 7-0 overall aggregate domination in the Champions League semi-final restored my faith in the individual footballer.

Bayern produced a couple of fantastic team performances but it was clear Barca, the team who had dominated European (and arguably world) football for the last five years, were missing the magic of the unfit Lionel Messi and the out-of-form Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

Barca centre back, Gerard Pique, does not think Messi could have turned the tie around if he had played in the second leg though.

“The fact Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, did not play was a factor.

“But I do not think [he] would have changed things all that much.”

I believe if Messi and his world-class teammates were fit and playing well Barca would never have lost 7-0 on aggregate and the score would have been much more even.

Everyone who has seen Messi play in the Champions League in the last few seasons knows he can virtually win a game on his own and although this is a well organised and talented Bayern side I am sure not even their defence could handle probably the best footballer the world has seen when he is healthy.

Regardless, I believe the two-legged thrashing was the result of the ability of players and not because either manager got their tactics right. Barca’s Tiki-Taka style did not lose nor did Bayern’s physical, pressing plan win.

It is hard to pick out a star man for Bayern so you might say that proves their tactics were decisive but we saw Bayern’s Arjen Robben finally deliver in a big game scoring an important and impressive goal in each leg.

Until not long ago, I always thought naively that whoever had the best players would win, all I knew about tactics was formations and player roles.

For me, seeing arguably the best club side ever assembled beaten so definitively partly, in my opinion, because the greatest player in the world was not even close to half his best, refreshingly shows the most important thing in football is the players.

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