Found April 26, 2013 on Fox Soccer:
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Every team loses, but no team loses quite like Barcelona. They get ''hammered,'' ''knocked out,'' or rendered ''unrecognizable.'' And that's just the good news. This is what happens when a team sets the bar as high as Barcelona has: Every loss in a big game is immediately pronounced the end of an era. Every moment not spent hoisting another trophy must mean the sky is crashing down. The story of their demise has been written so often of late that headline writers keep one ready for either occasion. Guess which ones they trotted out after the 4-0 beating Bayern Munich laid on the Spanish side in Champions League semifinal play earlier this week. ''Changing of the guard'' was the most popular, and there may yet be plenty of truth in that. Bayern Munich has played steely soccer for the better part of three seasons now, and they're more skillful and imaginative than any German side, maybe ever. Throw in fellow Bundesliga member Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 win over Barca rival Real Madrid in the other Champions League semi and there's no doubting that German soccer is on the rise. But here's the short list of what Bayern would have to do just to get on equal footing: win two Champions League titles and reach three semifinals, three domestic league cups and two club world cups. Besides, Barca isn't going anywhere. Never mind that what was - and still might be - the best soccer team anywhere still has Lionel Messi, the best player on the planet, and another handful who aren't far behind. Or that Barcelona has won 15 of the last 19 titles it has competed for the last few years, and could wrap up No. 16, Spain's La Liga title, as early as Saturday. ''When the things don't go your way you have to count to 10, wait until everyone calms down a little and takes time to think and use reason,'' Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said. ''If we want to keep competing like we have been and fight for titles, we need to improve many things.'' No argument there, not after the way Bayern Munich dismantled what had been the most creative and consistent attacks in the game, and turned elements of it back on Barcelona itself. The Spanish side looked weary at first, out of ideas by the middle and downright desperate at the end. It was a dismal performance that tied off a two-month stretch uncharacteristically chockfull of them. In their first Champions League outing against Paris St. Germain, then AC Milan, and in back-to-back losses to hated league rival Real, Barcelona had looked much the same. But in the second-leg game of each game, Messi, the incomparable engine at the heart of the team, rode to the rescue late. He was fighting off injuries throughout that same stretch and accounts that described Messi as ''hamstrung'' against Bayern might have been more accurate than the authors intended. Like nearly everyone at Barcelona at the moment, he is out of gas and out of sorts. Coach Tito Vilanova has been undergoing treatment for a saliva gland tumor for much of the season and Messi, a sensitive sort, conceded the mood at the club was subdued. They know there won't be any coming back against Bayern in the second leg of this one, brave words aside. ''We have to believe that we can do it, that we have a chance to do so,'' Iniesta said. ''Four goals is very difficult, but if we have even the slightest chance we have to try. I can't say that we can score five times against them, but we have to go out looking to win, as if it were a final.'' Stranger things have happened, but they won't. Not this time. Losing gets tiring after a while, but so does winning. Barcelona hasn't forgot how to play soccer, it simply needs time to catch its breath. Club vice president Josep Bartomeu made clear this week he intends to bring Vilanova back, and keep the nucleus of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique, and Sergio Busquets. For several seasons now, the most-often rumored big acquisition has been Neymar, the young Brazilian who's spurned overtures from a number of big European clubs to stay at Santos, at least until his homeland hosts the 2014 World Cup. A more reasonable target might be Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels, who won't come cheap. But Barca's defense, never stout, is getting old and in need of repair. A 4-0 loss, good as Bayern was on the night, still does not happen by accident. In truth, Barcelona spent its entire Champions League campaign just hanging on. They finally let go. After the run they've been on, and the season they've had to endure, that's not a shame. Just a loss, and nothing more. --- Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) and follow him at Litke.

Messi: Barcelona shouldn't give up hope

Lionel Messi says Barcelona must not give up hope in the Champions League semifinals after being overwhelmed 4-0 at Bayern Munich in the first leg. Messi says the return leg at the Camp Nou next week will be ''a very tough match'' given the seemingly insurmountable four-goal difference, but ''you have to go for it and try to achieve it. They are very good...

Messi vows Barcelona response

Lionel Messi has insisted he was fit to face Bayern Munich and has vowed to help Barcelona respond to their heavy defeat in Germany. The Spanish giants suffered a surprise 4-0 loss in their first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final and are now facing a huge uphill challenge to qualify. Messi was a peripheral figure at the Allianz Arena and did not look as if he had recovered...

Lionel Messi scores one of the most beautiful goals you’ll ever see

Lionel Messi scored a beautiful goal during the Barcelona vs Atletico Bilbao on Saturday, dancing through the defense like a magic man.

Soccer Commentator Funny Call for Amazing Messi Goal (Video)

  FC Barcelona player Lionel Messi is considered by many to be the best soccer player in the world, so him scoring amazing goals is nothing new. What’s special about this clip is the call from the commentator Ray Hudson, who like Bill Walton, has a flair for the dramatic. Check out the hilarious video here: H/T 101 Great Goals for the video.

Champions League, Four or More Goals

Players who have scored four or more goals in a Champions League match (1993-present): Five Lionel Messi, Barcelona vs. Bayer Leverkusen, second round, 2011-12 Four Robert Lewandowski, Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid, semifinals, 2012-13 Bafetimbi Gomis, Lyon vs. Dinamo Zagreb, group stage, 2011-12 Lionel Messi, Barcelona vs. Arsenal, quarterfinal, 2009-10 Andriy Shevchenko...

Barcelona, Madrid routed by German clubs

The expectation of seeing Lionel Messi line up against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final, of watching Barcelona and Real Madrid fight for supremacy in the ultimate ''Clasico,'' has been all but washed away. Instead of seeing Spain's two biggest teams play for the biggest trophy in club football, it's much more likely that German clubs Bayern...

Bayern, Borussia Dortmund herald power shift

(Eds: Edits 5th paragraph. With AP Photos.) By NESHA STARCEVIC AP Sports Writer The expectation of seeing Lionel Messi line up against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final, of watching Barcelona and Real Madrid fight for supremacy, is all but washed away. Instead of seeing Spain's two mightiest teams play for the premier trophy in club soccer, it's much more likely...

Bayern Munich Is The Best Team In The World Not Barcelona – Sammy Kuffour

Samuel Kuffour of Bayern Munich By Ameenu Shardow Ex Ghana defender Samuel Osei-Kuffour claims Bayern Munich are a much better team than Barcelona. The newly crowned German champions took a giant leap towards securing a final spot in the UEFA Champions League after beating the Catalans 4-0 in their first leg semi final meeting last Tuesday. The thumping win has casted a great doubt...

Column: Why Barcelona is 'more than a club'

(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Every team loses, but no team loses quite like Barcelona. They get ''hammered,'' `'knocked out,'' or rendered ''unrecognizable.'' And that's just the good news. This is what happens when a team sets the bar as high as Barcelona has: Every loss in a big game is immediately pronounced...
Soccer News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.