Chelsea have a mountain to climb if they are to make it to a second successive Champions League final, considering the task they face in the semi-finals.
Although Bayern Munich were able to claim a draw against Barcelona here last night, getting the better of "the best team in Europe", in the words of the Bayern coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, remains a stiff challenge.
Klinsmann said before the second leg that Barcelona are playing the best football on the continent and not only last week's 4-0 defeat at the Nou Camp supported that view. He wanted his side to exit from the European stage in a decent manner, giving the fans something to cheer about.
His respect for his club's followers was not reciprocated, however, as they jeered the very mention of his name as the teams were read out prior to kick-off. "We know they are a team you cannot beat by four goals," he had said on Monday. With hindsight, he is probably thinking that restricting them to scoring less than four is an achievement. The first half, therefore, will probably rank as one of his biggest successes since taking over last summer from Ottmar Hitzfeld, the last man to guide Bayern to Champions League success in 2001. It may still not be enough to keep him in a job next season.
The pride of Franck Ribéry and Luca Toni saved Bayern Munich from the brink of defeat to Getafe in the quarter-final of the Uefa Cup last season and they were the Bavarians' greatest hope for another miracle 12 months later.
When they combined early on to threaten Victor Valdes' goal for the first time, a hint of déjà vu was in the air. It did not last long, though.
The Barça coach, Pep Guardiola, is a fan of the one-touch football he learnt first-hand from Johan Cruyff and, although it took the visitors a while to get going, once they clicked, Bayern had to revert to damage limitation mode.
The problem is, if you put two men on Lionel Messi, that leaves one less to look after Samuel Eto'o and Andres Iniesta. Sacrifice a man from your attack, which Bayern did by leaving Toni alone up front, and you minimise your own chances of scoring. If there is a way to beat Barça, perhaps it is by playing them at their own game, but apart from Ribéry and Ze Roberto, Klinsmann simply did not have the men for it.
Ribéry and Ze Roberto did combine for the former to put Bayern ahead early in the second half, but that was perhaps not such a good idea as Barça took out their textbook to demonstrate the art of fine football.
Iniesta exchanged passes with Eto'o and Xavi Hernandez, who laid the ball back for Seydou Keita to pick his spot in the top corner of Hans-Jörg Butt's goal from outside the area to restore parity in the 73rd minute and ease Barcelona's progress to the last four.
There they meet one of what could be three English clubs in the semi-finals, but on this occasion holding three out of the four potential tickets for Champions League glory may not be enough of a guarantee that a Premier League club will be crowned champions of Europe again this year. Not that Barcelona are taking anything for granted. "It is going to be very, very difficult," said Yaya Touré. "The first match is at home and so we have got to try and repeat the first leg from this tie to have a good chance of going through."
So despite the Spanish club being outnumbered, quality may succeed over quantity and Chelsea will know that they could not be any further from a place in the final in Rome while being so close.
Bayern Munich (4-4-1-1): Butt; Lell, Lucio, Demichelis, Lahm; Sosa (Altintop, 78), Van Bommel, Ottl, Ze Roberto (Borowski, 78); Ribéry; Toni. Substitutes not used: Rensing (gk), Van Buyten, Badstuber, Breno.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Abidal; Xavi Hernandez, Touré, Keita; Messi, Eto'o, Iniesta (Hleb, 78). Substitutes not used: Pinto (gk), Cáceres, Gudjohnsen, Henry, Sylvinho, Busquets.
Referee: R Rosetti (Italy).
Touch of genius
Bayern goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt upstaged Messi and Ribéry, jinking past Iniesta to clear.Reuse content