Great atmosphere at training

Sergio Busquets at training on Thursday / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
FC Barcelona work out at the Ciutat Esportiva the morning after beating Bayern 3-0 in the Champions League semi finals

It was all smiles on Thursday morning as the first team returned to work after beating Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals. Luis Enrique had his whole squad with him on the Tito Vilanova field at the Ciutat Esportiva apart from Jérémy Mathieu, whose having trouble with his Achilles tendon, and worked out separately.

The team will train again on Friday morning at 11.00 as they finalise preparations for entertaining Real Sociedad at 6.00pm CET on Saturday.

Messi, Barça and Bayern by the numbers

Leo Messi and Neymar Jr scored the goals against Bayern / GERMÁN PARGA - FCB
Leo Messi is attracting all the headlines after his stunning display but there are other aspects of FC Barcelona’s performance that also stand out

The 3-0 win against Bayern made it nine wins in a row for Barça in the Champions League. Home or away, the Catalans have won every game since losing to PSG in the second group stage match. Ajax (2), Apoel, PSG (3), Manchester City (2) and Bayern have all failed to get results against FCB.


Barça have won all six Champions League games played this season at the Camp Nou, scoring 13 goals and conceding just two.


Leo Messi celebrated his 100th European fixture in style, adding two further goals to what is already a record haul in European competitions, taking his tally up to a massive 78.


But in ten semi-final appearances, Messi had only ever found the target twice, both against Real Madrid in 2001. He’s doubled that number now.


And that’s 53 official goals in his account for the season: 40 in La Liga, 10 in the Champions League and three more in the cup.


Messi has scored more goals against German clubs (14) than he has against teams from any other country.


The attacking threesome of Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suárez now have a combined total of 110 goals between them – making them the most productive frontline in European football.


Barça have now kept clean sheets in 32 games this season. In 55 games, Bravo has gone unbeaten 21 times and Ter Stegen an impressive 11.


And that’s also six clean sheets in a row – four in the league and two in the Champions League. Barça have scored 23 goals (an average of 3.8 a game) to no reply against Valencia, PSG, Espanyol, Getafe, Cordoba and Bayern Munich.


Jordi Alba once again was the top passer in the Barça team with 60, followed by Dani Alves with 51. Both had an 80% accuracy rate, and played key roles both in attack and defence, as this heat chart shows:


And here’s a chart of Messi’s good and bad passes against Bayern:


 

Leo Messi was named UEFA Man of the Match after the game. Here’s a summary of his stats:

LEO MESSI

Minutes played 90
Goals 2
Assists 1
Total shots 4
Shots on target 4
Total passes 40
% pass accuracy 80%
Attempted runs 15
Successful runs 10
Interventions 80
Fouls committed 1
Fouls received 4
Player passed to most Rakitic (9)
Player passed from most Dani Alves (14)

Messi reflects on glorious evening

Messi beats Neuer to make it 2-0 / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
“My celebration came because I was delighted about what that goal meant in terms of the match”, the Argentinian told UEFA.com after the match

He’s played 100 European games, scored 78 goals and totally redefined the meaning of the word ‘success’ in terms of football.

Following the 3-0 win against Bayern Munich last night, Leo Messi is once again the player that the whole world is talking about. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that there simply are no adjectives left to describe him. He makes it all look so easy, but speaking to www.uefa.com after the match, he insisted that it was anything but simple. “That was definitely a very complicated match” he said. “It’s the semi-final of the Champions League, against an opponent with terrific players in their ranks.”

After the second goal, in which he brilliantly lobbed one of the finest keepers in the game, Manuel Neuer, Messi celebrated in a very similar fashion to the way he had after scoring in the Champions League Final at Wembley in 2011, when he won the title for the third time against Manchester United:

“My celebration came because I was delighted about what that goal meant in terms of the match and the tie” he said. “We’ve had matches before where we simply couldn’t score despite our chances … So I celebrated like that because we’d managed to open the scoring, which was vital for the tie. Happily we then we even managed to score two more! It’s true that we’ve now got a good result here to take to Germany. Nevertheless we know it will be difficult in Munich, and Bayern have been performing very strongly there. Three-nil is a good result, but we still have to go to the second leg and believe in ourselves.”

“Bayern also like to have possession of the ball, and thus they play similarly to us” he added, referring to how the Germans, with former FCB manager Pep Guardiola at the helm, also like to control the possession and chase the ball every time they lose it. “Getting the opener and establishing the lead was so difficult for us and then the others came so quickly afterwards all of which constituted a super result to take into the return leg. It’s precisely what we wanted to achieve tonight.”

Five talking points from FC Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Messi after one of two brilliant goals against Bayern / GERMÁN PARGA-FCB
Lionel Andrés Messi, Guardiola’s return, the battle for possession, Neuer’s saves and the result are our five picks

Messi and Messi. And a thousand times Messi. The best player ever stepped up to save Barça from a game that seemed to have stagnated. After 77 minutes, he received the ball on the edge of the area after a crucial recovery from Alves and placed a powerful strike beyond the reach of Neuer. Three minutes later he did something even better – he left Boateng stranded and then delivered a fine chip over his head of Neuer. Messi made all the difference tonight.

Pep Guardiola returns: The former captain and most successful manager ever in the history of Barça featured as a visitor at the Camp Nou for the first time. The Bayern manager took a strong part in everything his team did, making tactical changes all the way. One of the images of the night was his hug with Luis Enrique just before kick-off.

The battle for possession: Both sides were locked in an intense battle to keep possession of the ball. They gave 200% to chain passes together and use combination plays to create pressure on the opposition. The possession was tightly matched all the way. Barça led at half time with 52% and ended with 51%. The home side made 411 passes and the visitors 513 (data from Opta).

Neuer’s feet: The goalkeeper kept Bayern unbeaten in the first half. After 12 minutes he produced a fine save to deny Luis Suárez and another after 39 against Dani Alves. Neymar was also through on goal when one of the finest goalkeepers in the game showed another touch of class.

Excellent result, magic night: Neymar, in practically the last move of the game, sealed a 3-0 win that sets the Catalans up perfectly for the return leg. Three goals for and no away goals to boost Bayern’s confidence. The Camp Nou was witness to a historic night against the Bundesliga champions. Then fans got right behind their team and Berlin is now closer than ever.

Players feeling closer to Berlin

Neymar Jr celebrates after Leo Messi scored Barça's second / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué, Neymar Jr, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets all spoke after Wednesday dazzling victory

Barça are closer than ever to Berlin after a grandiose 3-0 win over Bayern Munich. Speaking afterwards, goalscorer Neymar said that: “the result gives a big lead, but it’s not definitive. We have to stay humble and calm – there are still 90 minutes left”.

On his team-mate Leo Messi he added that “it’s impossible to beat him. He is the best and I am always at his side to learn from him. It was a great game because both sides know how to play football.”

Andrés Iniesta

“We tried to control the ball, but we knew they’d want it too. Our effectiveness in the last few minutes is what decided the game”.

“Leo Messi does things that nobody else does. We are lucky to be able to enjoy having him … I take my hat off to him once again. He makes us happy”.

“We know what football is like. This is a semi-final against Bayern. Nothing has been decided yet because there are still 90 minutes to go and we’ll have to get things very right in Munich if we want to play the final”.

“We shouldn’t start thinking that nobody can beat us. We have to keep doing this, because if we stop, there are other very good teams and when you least expect it they can beat you”.

Gerard Piqué

“We had a sensational game. We were great in defence and created lots of chances up front. In the second, we got them on the counter attack and it worked for us”.

“We didn’t feel that uncomfortable without the ball. Bayern are a great team and we knew there would be times when we’d have the ball and that we’d need to use the counter attack”.

“When Messi is inspired, nobody can stop him. His second goal was incredible. It’s a pleasure to have him with us”.

Sergio Busquets

“It was fast, intense game and they man-marked us. It really was a physical game and we got a good result to set us up for the return leg”.

“We knew we’d have our chances. We had confidence in ourselves. We now know that if we get a goal in Munich then we’ll be in a great position. We’ll go to the Allianz Arena like any other game – looking to win”.

“Even though everyone says we’re the favourites, we’ll go step by step because Bayern will know how to cause us problems at home, especially with the manager they’ve got”.

“Having Messi in the team guarantees everything. He doesn’t just score goals, he gives assists, he works and wins the ball. He’s the best player in the world”.

“Pep coming back? It’s hard to forget all that he did for me. It brought back very nice memories. I owe a lot to him. He’s very special”.

Jordi Alba

“3-0 gives us a lot of confidence against a very strong opponent”.

“We didn’t think once about two years ago. That was another circumstance and today we have shown once again how united we are”.

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