- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

MUNICH (AP) - The Latest from the Champions League semifinal match between Bayern Munich and Barcelona at Allianz Arena:


10:52 p.m.

After a trophy-less season last year, Barcelona is most definitely back and, arguably, as good as ever.

The way the team beat Bayern Munich, scoring three times at home in the first leg and twice in quick succession in a superior first half in Munich on Tuesday, was reminiscent of when Barcelona dominated under former coach Pep Guardiola.

The gulf between the teams was so large that Barcelona was able to take it easy for the second half on Tuesday, conceding two ultimately meaningless goals and losing 3-2. But the aggregate score - 5-3 to Barcelona - left no doubt about the Spanish side’s superiority.

Guardiola was on the receiving end this time, as Bayern’s coach. The 3-2 victory, however, was the first time that Bayern has won a Champions League semifinal game under his management.

But deprived of injured wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Bayern lacked the threat to truly unsettle Barcelona. Guardiola’s risky tactic of under-manning his defense to push his team forward in attack also looked like folly against Barcelona’s attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Neymar scored both of Barcelona’s goals in Munich, pushing the season total for the trio to an otherworldly 114.

Barcelona’s opponents in the final in Berlin will be either Juventus or Real Madrid, who play Wednesday.


10:37 p.m.

It’s over, and Barcelona is headed to the Champions League final.

Barcelona lost 3-2 in Munich, but won 5-3 on aggregate. The four-time European Cup champions will face either Real Madrid or Juventus in the final on June 6 in Berlin. Those two teams meet in the second leg of the other semifinal on Wednesday in Madrid.


10:26 p.m.

Bayern forward Thomas Mueller’s goal came just after Barcelona brought on defender Jeremy Mathieu to replace midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

Pep Guardiola also made his first change to the Bayern lineup, taking off captain Philipp Lahm and bringing 24-year-old Sebastian Rode on for only his seventh Champions League appearance.


10:23 p.m.

Bayern forward Thomas Mueller hasn’t given up, scoring from distance with a shot that diving Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen couldn’t reach.

That puts Bayern ahead 3-2 in the second leg and has woken up the crowd, but the Bundesliga champions still need at least three more goals in less than 15 minutes to beat Barcelona on aggregate.


10:18 p.m.

GOAL! Bayern Munich. Thomas Mueller scores in the 74th minute to give Bayern a 3-2 lead over Barcelona.

Bayern still needs at least three more goals to reach the final.


10:10 p.m.

Nimble footwork worthy of “Singin’ in the Rain” earned Robert Lewandowski a superb goal and a dash of restored honor for Bayern.

The Poland forward shimmied left and then right to rid himself of tight marking by Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano and get his shot off.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola applauded but wasn’t happy for long, hurling a bottle of water in frustration shortly after Lewandowski’s goal evened the second leg at 2-2.

With Barcelona leading 5-2 on aggregate, its place in the final of June 6 still looks assured.

Even with the goal, the noise level in the Allianz Arena has dropped noticeably.

Only the most dedicated Bayern fans behind Barcelona’s goal are still singing and waving flags. Many others are drinking beer.


10:03 p.m.

GOAL! Bayern Munich. Robert Lewandowski scores in the 59th minute to make it 2-2 against Barcelona.

Bayern, however, still needs at least four more goals.


9:55 p.m.

That’s it for Luis Suarez, replaced by Pedro Rodriguez. The Barcelona forward gets to rest his very expensive legs and sip water on the bench.

Luis Enrique’s decision to rest Suarez for the second half adds to the sense that the hard work is over for Barcelona in this anti-climactic semifinal match and that the team can now focus on the final.


9:49 p.m.

Bayern Munich kicks off the second half of the Champions League semifinals against Barcelona trailing 2-1, and 5-1 on aggregate.


9:45 p.m.

Injured Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben couldn’t stand the discomfort of seeing his team tumble to another semifinal defeat, leaving his seat several minutes before halftime.

And teammate David Alaba, also sitting out the match, has been smashing a metal fence in frustration every time Bayern misses a chance.

Hope seems to have abandoned the Bayern clan before the second half.


9:43 p.m.

The suspense lasted just seven minutes.

Medhi Benatia’s early goal for Bayern Munich sparked hope, however faint, that the 2013 Champions League winners might pull off a semifinal surprise against Barcelona and recover from its 3-0 loss in the first leg.

But two goals from Neymar, in the 15th and 29th minutes, sent Barcelona into the dressing room at halftime with a whopping 5-1 aggregate lead and an almost assured place in the final on June 6 against either Juventus or Real Madrid, who play Wednesday.

Questions will have to be asked of Pep Guardiola’s coaching at Bayern. He had huge success at Barcelona, winning 14 trophies from 2008-12, with four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi on his side.

But in his second season at Bayern, and now with Messi playing against him, his team is heading for its fourth loss in four Champions League semifinal games.


9:32 p.m.

Barcelona is headed into halftime with a 2-1 lead over Bayern Munich. Neymar scored both goals for Barcelona after Medhi Benatia gave Bayern the early lead.

Barcelona leads 5-1 on aggregate with two away goals, so Bayern needs to score five in the second half to have any chance of reaching the final.


9:28 p.m.

With fine work in the Barcelona goal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is upstaging Manuel Neuer, who was the standout goalkeeper in the first leg.

Although he was moving right, Ter Stegen got his left hand to a powerful strike from Robert Lewandowski and then also managed to stop the ball as it trickled onto, but not past, his goal line.

Ter Stegen also saved a strong header from Bastian Schweinsteiger.


9:16 p.m.

In its hunt for goals, Bayern is pushing players forward, leaving three and sometimes just two at the back. And that’s leaving acres of space for Barcelona to exploit on the counter-attack.

Neymar quickly made Bayern pay for that risk-taking with his 51st and 52nd goals in 88 matches for Barcelona.

Lionel Messi also drew a save from Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with a snatched shot.

With Barcelona now leading 5-1 on aggregate over the two legs, its place in the final on June 6 looks assured.


9:14 p.m.

GOAL! Barcelona. Neymar scores his second of the night, making it 2-1 in the 29th minute.


9:07 p.m.

At the other end, Barcelona defenders smothered Robert Lewandowski before the Bayern forward could get off a shot at Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal.

The Poland striker is again wearing a black face mask to protect his fractured nose and jaw.

Thomas Mueller also drew a fine save from Ter Stegen with a looping header.


9:05 p.m.

Barcelona punctures Bayern’s faint hopes with an away goal that the leaves the German team needing at least four more to go through.

And it was all too easy.

Lionel Messi slotted a pass to Luis Suarez, who found space behind the Bayern defense. Suarez passed to Neymar, who tapped in to make the score 1-1.

That is the 113th goal this season for the Messi-Suarez-Neymar trio.

Bayern fans haven’t given hope. The drums are still banging.


9 p.m.

GOAL! Barcelona. Neymar scores in the 15th minute to make it 1-1.


8:55 p.m.

Bayern Munich has the early breakthrough it needed, with defender Medhi Benatia getting his first Champions League goal.

Poor defending from Barcelona left him unmarked to head in a corner. Bayern leads 1-0 but needs two more goals, and not let any in, to push the second leg into extra time.

Both sides started brightly, with Bayern fans in full voice. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved a stinging shot from Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who found space behind the Bayern defense.


8:52 p.m.

GOAL! Bayern Munich. Medhi Benatia scores in the seventh minute. Bayern leads Barcelona 1-0, but still trails 3-1 on aggregate.


8:45 p.m.

Barcelona kicks off to start the start the second leg of the Champions League semifinals against Bayern Munich.

After losing 3-0 in the first leg, Bayern needs to score at least three goals tonight to have any chance of reaching the final.


8:35 p.m.

Like Barcelona teammate Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano is getting all touchy-feely with the Munich turf.

There is video at https://twitter.com/FCBarcelona/status/598191908993814530 of the defender bending down to touch the grass as Barcelona runs out for the pre-game warm-up to a predictable chorus of boos and whistles.


7:53 p.m.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique isn’t changing a winning formula, sticking with the lineup that won 3-0 in the first leg.

Ivan Rakitic, rested for Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad in the Spanish league on Saturday, brings his energy and strong on-field relationship with Lionel Messi to the Barcelona midfield, playing alongside Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, who came on as second-half substitutes over the weekend.

Although its attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar hogs headlines, Barcelona’s defense isn’t bad, either, letting in only 19 goals in 36 Spanish league games this season.

In Europe’s top five leagues, only Bayern’s defense has a better defensive record.

And Barcelona hasn’t conceded any goals in its last seven games, all of them wins. That doesn’t bode well for Bayern, which must score at least three tonight to have any hope of going through to the final on June 6.


7:46 p.m.

In sticking with Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield, Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola seems to have opted for a cautious approach.

The more attack-minded Mario Goetze is on the bench. The scorer of Germany’s World Cup-winning goal in Brazil last year came on as a substitute for Bayern in the first leg, just after Lionel Messi got the first of Barcelona’s three goals.

Before the second leg, and needing at least three goals tonight, Guardiola said Bayern must not rush forward, as it did at the start of the first leg.

Guardiola has stuck with forwards Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski, who were scoreless in the first leg.


7:41 p.m.

After experimenting with three defenders in the first leg, Bayern Munich will start with four at the back in the second leg against Barcelona.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez will start up front for Barcelona.

Bayern: Manuel Neuer; Rafinha, Medhi Benatia, Jerome Boateng, Juan Bernat; Philipp Lahm, Thiago Alcantara, Xabi Alonso, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Thomas Mueller, Robert Lewandowski.

Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez.


7:27 p.m.

Scattered whistles welcomed Barcelona players as they took a pre-game stroll in suits and ties on the field at Allianz Arena.

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic bent down, touched the turf, kissed his right hand three times and made the sign of the cross. Barcelona posted video:



7:21 p.m.

On a mild, sunny evening in Munich, the first fans are slowly trickling into the tire-shaped, 68,000-seat Allianz Arena, one of the funkiest stadiums in soccer, with an exterior that changes color.

Its 2,760 diamond-shaped panels will glow tonight in Bayern red. They light up blue for matches of TSV 1860, Munich’s other team that plays in the Bundesliga’s second division, and white for national team games.

Noise cascades down from the three tiers. Bayern, which owns the stadium, paid off the 346 million euro ($386 million) cost late last year - nearly 16 years ahead of schedule.

The stadium opened in 2005. In the first year, it served 700,000 sausages and more than enough beer to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.


7:15 p.m.

With watertight defending an absolute must for the Bundesliga champions, it would be a massive surprise if Bayern coach Pep Guardiola repeats the risky strategy he experimented with for the first 15 minutes of the first leg, when he fielded a three-man defense of Jerome Boateng, Medhi Benatia and Rafinha (playing out of position on the left).

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar swarmed over them like a rash, and only superb goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer kept them out in that opening spell.

A reason to hope for Bayern: Its defense has conceded only 16 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches this season, the best defensive record of any team in Europe’s top five leagues.

And there’s a precedent, too. The last time Barcelona traveled to Munich, in the 2013 semifinals, Bayern won 4-0. Repeat that tonight and Bayern, not Barcelona, will play in the final on June 6 in Berlin.


7:06 p.m.

Very serious looking, Barcelona players have left for the Allianz Arena. The team posted video of them setting off on its Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/FCBarcelona/status/598170750802128896


7 p.m.

Combined, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are an almost unstoppable attacking force.

They’ve scored 112 goals among them in 55 matches for Barcelona this season, an average of two per game. Messi got two against Bayern in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals and Neymar scored Barcelona’s third in the 3-0 win.

Any additional Barcelona goals in tonight’s second leg will be extra valuable under the away-goals rule.

If Messi, Neymar and Suarez have an off night by their standards and score only once at the Allianz Arena in Munich, that would still mean that Bayern needs to score five to advance.


6:45 p.m.

It’s crunch time for Bayern Munich tonight.

To reach the Champions League final, the 2013 winners must:

-Score at least three times in 90 minutes against the second-toughest defense in all of Europe’s top five leagues (only Bayern’s own defense is stingier).

-Stop Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, soccer’s most potent attacking trio, from putting the two-leg series out of reach.

Doing both of those things won’t guarantee Bayern a spot in the final on June 6. But three unanswered goals from the Bundesliga champions at its own stadium would equal Barcelona’s advantage from the first leg and send the match into 30 minutes of extra time and then, if no more goals are scored, to a penalty shootout.

Can Bayern pull it off?

Stick with us here, with coverage before and during the match, to find out.


6:35 p.m.

The Champions League trophy, nicknamed “Big Ears” because of the shape of its handles, is making a guest appearance at tonight’s semifinal match between Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

The trophy has been carried into the Allianz Arena by a worker with white gloves.

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