x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

'It is time' for Bayern Munich to win Champions League title, says Arjen Robben

Barcelona beaten 7-0 on aggregate before manager Tito Vilanova confirms Lionel Messi had to be rested due to probability of injury.

Arjen Robben made a significant contribution to Bayern Munich's performance at Nou Camp. Matthias Schrader / AP Photo
Arjen Robben made a significant contribution to Bayern Munich's performance at Nou Camp. Matthias Schrader / AP Photo

Arjen Robben set his sights on lifting the Champions League trophy after helping Bayern Munich complete an "amazing" 7-0 aggregate semi-final drubbing of Barcelona.

Leading 4-0 from the first leg, Bayern stunned Barca with a comprehensive 3-0 victory in their return meeting at the Nou Camp thanks to second-half goals from Robben, Gerard Pique – who put through his own net – and Thomas Muller.

The victory saw Bayern set up a mouthwatering Wembley final against Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund on May 25 – the competition's first all-German final – and Robben is hoping his side can go one better than they did in 2010 and last year by winning the showpiece.

The former Real Madrid winger told Sky Sports 2: "Now we're in the final. It's the third time in the last four years, but it's time to win it now!

"It's going to be a big one. Dortmund have proven over the last two, three years that they are a very good side. It's going to be a big game again which will be decided by the small details."

The Holland international added of their Nou Camp victory: "I think it's a terrific performance – a little bit of history maybe.

"You're playing against a team who have dominated Europe over the last five years and there's so much quality in their squad, and to win 4-0 at home and 3-0 away, especially this one away in their own stadium, it's amazing."

Robben refused to get too carried away with their success, though.

Asked if he felt Bayern were now the team to beat in Europe, he said: "I think we have to stay calm.

"At this moment we're playing some great football. We have to enjoy this moment, just stay calm, play our football and try to improve over and over again."

Barcelona midfielder Xavi lauded Bayern as "extraordinary" and believes they thoroughly deserved their place in the final.

The Spain international also refused to use his side's numerous absentees as a reason for their convincing defeat tonight.

Barca were without senior players Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Eric Abidal and Sergio Busquets through injury while Jordi Alba was suspended and Lionel Messi, who has been struggling with a hamstring problem in recent weeks, was an unused substitute.

Xavi told Canal Plus: "Right now they [Bayern] are at an extraordinary level. They have been better and very much deserve to be in the finals.

"Physically, we've been in bad shape with regards to players missing. Busquets, Abidal, Puyol, Mascherano...they are important players. But neither is that an excuse. Bayern have been better. Mentally strong, physically extraordinary."

Messi scored as a second-half substitute in the weekend Primera Liga draw with Athletic Bilbao but coach Tito Vilanova opted only to name him on the bench this evening.

The likelihood of Messi then appearing at some point tonight dwindled as Bayern clinically put the tie beyond their hosts and in the end Vilanova decided against throwing his star forward into the fray.

Defender Pique doubts even Messi could have saved Barca from defeat, though.

He told reporters: "It's clear it's not the same without Messi, but we went out with the intention of scoring a quick goal. We had a good first half, but the decision about him playing or not didn't influence things. The result would've been the same."

The former Manchester United man added: "When a team is so superior you simply have to congratulate them.

"Maybe it's my most bitter night at Barcelona. We've tried, but they scored right at the start of the second half and that hurt us. The last 25 minutes were tough."

Pique is now keen to put the semi-final exit behind them, turning his focus to this weekend's clash with Real Betis where Barca could clinch the Primera Liga title.

"Now we need prepare for the league and finish it off as soon as possible, and then make some decisions for next season," he said.

Meanwhile, Vilanov confirmed Messi was not injured but did not feature in the second leg for fear of getting injured.

"Messi felt good against Athletic Bilbao [on Saturday], but in the final minutes of the game at San Mames he noticed a strange feeling," Vilanova said of the four-time reigning world player of the year. "He's not injured, but he felt he could pick up an injury.

"Yesterday he trained, and also today... but he did not feel well. He's an explosive player and he could break. So, maybe he could not help the team."

Vilanova, speaking at his post-match news conference, acknowledged the tie had been lost in Bavaria last Tuesday.

"To lose, that can pass, but to lose 3-0 at home and 7-0 overall... It is clear this is not the tie we wanted," he said. "If we had arrived at 100 hundred per cent, it could have been different. I believe the first leg weighed heavily on us. I do not want to recall how they got those goals."

Jupp Heynckes, the Bayern Munich manager, acknowledged that the absence of Argentina forward Messi had had an effect but felt it should not detract from his side's achievement.

He said on German television channel ZDF: "Messi's [absence] surprised us and, even though it's clear that we've had an excellent game, you need to accept that Barcelona are one thing with Messi another without Messi.

"If we look at the whole tie, we've won 7-0. That couldn't be more clear and now we have to enjoy it."

Sandro Rosell, the Barca president who was quick to congratulate Bayern and accepted the Bundesliga champions had been "clearly the superior side", backed coach Vilanova's decision not to risk Messi with the tie out of reach.

"If the best player in the world isn't on the pitch, it's noticeable," he said on www.fcbarcelona.cat.

"At any rate, I am very proud of all of the players, managers, members and fans. They proved that they know how to win and how to lose.

"If they [Barca management] decided that he shouldn't play, it was a purely technical decision. Nothing else to say."

Heynckes, meanwhile, played down speculation linking him with a return to Real Madrid following his side's stunning success at the Nou Camp.

The 67 year old, who will step down from his post in the summer to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, the former Barca manager, occupied the Bernabeu hotseat in 1997/98 and has been touted as a possible successor to Jose Mourinho should the Real manager depart in the summer.

But Heynckes insisted after this evening's game that he has not had his head turned by the prospect of a second spell in the Spanish capital.

"I turn 68 on May 9," he said. "I've spent 50 years in football as a player and coach and some day you have to think that's enough.

"Madrid have not been in contact with me.

"Logically, my team this year has been playing at a world-class level and for that reason reporters speculate about my future, but it won't influence my decision after June 1."


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