5 Players who single-handedly managed to silence Barcelona
- Barcelona's dominance over the past decade has only been broken a few times. We pick five players who had a big hand in that.
Pep Guardiola's spell at Barcelona saw the club firmly establish themselves as the best in the world heading into the 2010s. An aura of invincibility surrounded the team in the new decade, partly due to the sudden increase in their trophy haul and partly because of their roster featuring the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi.
As a result, clubs resorted to drastic measures to stop the Spanish giants. Real Madrid, for instance, spent a whopping €261 million in one window on player recruitment to stop the rival juggernaut. Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, meanwhile, were among the teams who tried to counter the Blaugrana's infamous tiki-taka passing by playing 'negative' football.
Sometimes, however, all that was required to stop Barcelona were a few moments of individual brilliance. A remarkable strike, a crucial goal, or even an unprecedented hattrick; anything that made the giants look vulnerable once again.
We look at five such players who, owing to their brilliance, were able to stun the Spanish titans while silencing the Blaugrana faithful.
#1 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
The 2012/13 UEFA Champions League saw a match-up of Spain versus Germany in both the semi-finals. While Borussia Dortmund faced Real Madrid in one semi-final, Bayern Munich went up against Barcelona in the other.
Bayern's match against the Blaugrana took centre-stage, with fans eager to witness two of the best sides in Europe go against each other. Some predicted a closely-fought encounter with a place in the final at stake, however, it turned out to be the complete opposite, with the Bavarians humiliating their opponents over two legs.
Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg alone with Thomas Muller starring for the home side. The Germany international, playing in the hole behind Mario Gomez, scored twice himself while also assisting the striker. He was involved in the build-up play for Arjen Robben's strike too, thus playing a role in all four Bayern goals on the night.
Muller took home the man-of-the-match award, helping Bayern to a huge advantage. One week later, he scored once more to help his side win the return leg 3-0. His strike brought the aggregate score to 7-0 and handed Barcelona one of their worst losses in the competition.