“It was very important that we equalised straight after going behind,” said the Catalan coach. “I’m very, very proud of my team. My players showed a lot of heart and now we’re in a great position.”
The match followed a similar pattern to the first leg last week, with Bayern dominating possession yet struggling to create clear-cut chances against a team that “put up a wall”, as goalscorer Arjen Robben described it. Indeed, the hosts' lack of cutting edge played greatly on the players' minds with Thomas Müller admitting: “Panic is too strong a word but you do start to ask yourself how you’re going to get through.”
After Patrice Evra’s stunning drive put the visitors ahead, Bayern’s patient forward probing soon turned into a more direct onslaught, with Mario Mandzukic’s header pulling the hosts level just two minutes later. “After going 1-0 down it was very important that we equalised straight away,” said captain Philipp Lahm. “As players you do start to think ‘what if?’ But by scoring immediately there wasn’t any time for thoughts like that to take root. We showed great team spirit in wanting to get at them right away and thankfully we managed that.”
Practice makes perfect
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was of a similar opinion: “It was a huge relief after we equalised because I knew we would be on the right track then. Going 2-1 up didn’t make that much difference because if they had scored again we wouldn’t have gone through. It was all over after we made it 3-1 though.”
Robben, who set up Müller for Bayern’s second before scoring the third himself with a trademark run cutting inside from the right, revealed that after-hours practice on the training pitch had borne fruit at the Allianz Arena. “Bastian Schweinsteiger always makes fun of my right foot, and rightly so,” said the left-footed Dutchman. “This morning after our final training session we stayed a bit longer and I put in a lot of crosses with my right. It seems to have worked because it was a good delivery [to set up Müller].”
Plenty to play for
The 4-2 aggregate scoreline ensured Bayern a place in Friday’s semi-final draw, where they will be pitted against one of either Chelsea FC, Club Atletico de Madrid or Real Madrid CF, who knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
The last-four encounters are set to begin on 22 April, and while Bayern may already be Bundesliga champions they still have plenty of opportunity to maintain their rhythm in important fixtures before then. This coming Saturday Dortmund visit the Allianz Arena on Bundesliga Matchday 30, while 1. FC Kaiserslautern will also be in town the following week for their DFB Cup semi-final.