Mario Götze turned down Bayern Munich last year. Then the impending arrival of Pep Guardiola convinced him to assent to a move once Bayern activates his 37 million euro release clause this summer, Bild reported and Borussia Dortmund confirmed.
"He wants to play with Guardiola," Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp said.
But Götze will miss a great coach by delaying a year: Jupp Heynckes.
In fact, Götze and Guardiola will struggle to improve this Bayern side, as a 4-0 Champions League semifinal first leg win over Barcelona amply demonstrated on Tuesday.
Barcelona set a record by qualifying for its sixth straight Champions League semifinal. It will not advance any further this year, however, with the German side on track for a third final appearance in four years.
"It is crazy, almost unbelievable," Arjen Robben told Sky. "We played at home against Barcelona, the team that dominated the last five years, and we won by 4-0."
Barcelona had 66 percent of possession and one shot on goal. Barca (692) had nearly twice as many passes as Bayern (363) and scored four fewer goals.
Thomas Müller put four shots on target, the same number as Barca attempted in total.
"It's the worst result ever. It's almost impossible," Xavi said. "They were better, I don't mind saying that."
It wasn't the worst result ever; it tied Barca's biggest defeats in Europe, the latest of which came in November 1997 against Dynamo Kiev. But this one will sting.
Barcelona won two of the last four Champions League trophies and will win La Liga, its fourth league title in five years. This is a dynasty.
"The time when soccer was defined as a sport of 11 against 11 and the Germans always win is over," Gerard Piqué told AS the day before the match, referencing Gary Lineker's aphorism. "And we ended it."
Instead of facing the representatives of a bygone era, Barca found Germany's ghosts fully corporeal. Except maybe Müller, who haunted the Catalan back line by materializing in crucial spots for all four goals.
The first two came from set pieces. Barcelona struggles aerially, and the Germans ruthlessly exploited the deficiency. Bayern won 11 of the game's 14 aerial duels. For the first, Dante rose roughly two feet higher than his countryman Dani Alves to head across goal after Robben crossed (!) with his right foot (!!). Müller popped up behind Piqué – left turning his freshly bald head from side to side to try to figure out what had happened – to nod home.
A few minutes into the second half, Robben lifted a corner to the back post. Müller, this time, loomed over Dani Alves to assist with his head. Mario Gomez was slightly offside, but his seventh goal in four games stood.
Tickets for the match cost as much as 900 euros on the black market. Any Bavarian fans who shelled out that much must have considered the price a bargain as the third and fourth came in quick succession.
Robben capped off a scintillating evening with his own goal, tucking around Victor Valdes from a tight angle. Müller set a moving pick for Jordi Alba in the buildup which was clearly illegal but helped underline Bayern's clear physical superiority.
Müller found time between asking for a substitution for an injury and actually coming off to finish off the scoring, easily poking David Alaba's center into the net.
"There's no explanation. They were stronger, faster and played better," Piqué told TV3. "They just overwhelmed us."
Barca failed to press the ball effectively. With Lionel Messi barely fit and walking around the field, Xavi had to push higher and try to chase the ball when Baryern's defenders passed it around. Messi dropped deeper and deeper to collect the ball, making only two touches in Bayern's box and losing possession six times. He never seemed to move faster than a light jog.
Clearly even a hobbled Messi is crucial for Barcelona. But with Cesc Fabregas and David Villa available, Messi may have proved more effective off the bench to offer an emotional lift.
Barca resorted to long balls, punting 61 of them (compared to Bayern's 37).
"We tried to build pressure on them, especially in midfield and we managed to do that in an excellent way," Bastian Schweinsteiger told Sky.
Barcelona, clearly unaccustomed to losing so resolutely, picked up three unnecessary yellow cards in the final three minutes, including one when Alba threw the ball in Robben's face. Alba will miss the second leg.
No club has ever come back from a four-goal first-leg deficit in the Champions League.
Bayern has won 25 of its last 26 games. The only loss during that spell came in the second leg against Arsenal, with progression already assured. It has scored 20 goals in the last four games.
"The appetite for success is huge after the last two years," Heynckes told Sky.
Back in 1998, Heynckes won the Champions League with Real Madrid and was promptly replaced. Two dozen years later, will it happen again?
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- Sports & Recreation
- Bayern Munich
- Pep Guardiola
- Arjen Robben
- Jupp Heynckes