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Media hails mighty Munich

The German media praised Bayern Munich's "historic" 4-0 drubbing of Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final first leg as Lionel Messi and Co sunk without trace.

Football magazine kicker wrote: "Historic! Bayern tear Barcelona apart", while Der Spiegel described Barca's visit to the Allianz Arena as "a debacle" for the Primera Division leaders and saying it represented "Bayern's biggest exclamation mark this season" despite the current furore over club president Uli Hoeness' tax affairs.

Munich-based newspaper Abendzeitung focused on the early exits of the Bayern supporters who exited the ground before the 90 minutes was up, safe in the knowledge that the result was beyond doubt.

"In the end it was the Munich fans who finally humbled Barcelona," the paper wrote. "As though their team were leading against Hannover or Furth, thousands of spectators left the stadium way before the final whistle. They'd win it anyway. You rarely heard anyone mentioning Messi. Did he even play?"

The World Player of the Year's lack of influence was highlighted in Bild, which asked: "Messi who?" The tabloid added: "Bayern's Messi is called Thomas Muller."

Muller scored two goals, and had some involvement in all four, and Die Zeit was among the publications to pay tribute to his performance.

"Where others have legs, he is held up by salt sticks. Where others walk, he shambles. When others shoot, Muller pokes. Opposition players head the ball, while Muller stoops, as he did with the first goal," the German weekly said. "But on this evening, he was three times as dangerous as all of his opponents put together."

The tactical website Spielverlagerung, meanwhile, felt the result could signal the end of an era. "This game could go down into history books as the downfall of one great team and the beginning of another," it said. "Seldom has a highly-anticipated game, and nominally equal encounter, been decided in that fashion. You could call it paradox that most would accredit Barcelona with individual superiority."

The Catalan and Madrid media were in agreement that the scoreline was both well deserved and painfully shattering for Tito Vilanova's side.

Mundo Deportivo's cover on Wednesday morning screamed "Nightmare", with Sport calling it "The Saddest Night", as Barcelona's sports papers tried to convey the anguish being felt by blaugrana fans.

In the Spanish capital, the mood was quite different. "End of a cycle" was the phrase on the front of AS, while Marca went with "Historic Beating", amid madridista glee at Barca's defeat.

Mundo Deportivo's match report was headlined "Katastrophe en Munich" and said: "The German panzer that is Bayern rolled right over Barca. The final image of Barca committing fouls, picking up yellow cards, was confirmation of their impotence against the strength of a Bayern team heading for the final."

Sport's banner said Barca had been "humiliated on the saddest of all St Jordi's days", with its report adding: "Barcelona suffered a disaster in every way and said goodbye to the Champions League after losing 4-0 to Bayern in a game - and refereeing display - which were disastrous."

AS' match report, in the circumstances, was quite measured: "Every great team is condemned to vanish with a great defeat. Barcelona lived yesterday such a cruel defeat at the Allianz Arena. Bayern, like a cyclone, swept them from the road to Wembley."

Marca columnist Javier Estepa more gleefully recalled Barca's 1994 4-0 European Cup final defeat to AC Milan. "It was a painful defeat of a type the azulgrana club has not suffered for 20 years," Estepa said. "That loss buried Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team'."

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