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Bayern, Barcelona and the End of an Era in the Champions League?

25/04/2013 17:40 BST | Updated 25/06/2013 10:12 BST

After the Spanish ineptitude comes the Spanish inquisition. The end of an era?

It's a claim that has been repeated since before the final whistle had even blown on Tuesday night, Barcelona looking a shadow of their former selves. Indeed, a closer reflection of what had defined this great Barca side was found in their opposition. Bayern have mixed the possession, pressing and passing perfected by the Catalan outfit, and imbued it with their own power and pace.

It was a devastating show of force, like the scene when Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti using only, well, the Force. Bayern is essentially a Sith lord, ready to rule the empire.

However, while this may have heralded the rise of Bayern - although it's worth remembering they reached the final in 2010 and 2012, so it's not exactly as though they've suddenly came from nowhere to usurp Barca's throne - it was not necessarily the 'end' of Barcelona.

That particular eulogy has been all too hastily written; all too gleefully as well. The bigger they are, the harder they fall... and the happier people are about it as well. There seems to be a delight taken in greatness failing, with the need for the next step to be taken (the king is dead, long live the king and so on).

People should step back and reflect on just how brilliant Barcelona have been: not only in terms of their vast trophy haul, and the six consecutive Champions League semi-finals, but also their influence and impact. Teams want to play the Barcelona way, or at least develop their own identity, and bring through players like La Masia. It's also reflected on the international stage: Barca have fed Spain's success, and vice versa, in a way perhaps not seen since Ajax/Holland and Bayern/Germany in the 1970s.

The notion that they're finished, however, is absurd. In Lionel Messi, they still have the greatest player to grace the game. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique... all remain world-class players. One bad game does not change that. A change of style is not needed, just perhaps a defender and someone to alleviate the burden on Messi. Barcelona will be contesting for this trophy next year, and the year after, and the year after.

If that is true, it is also true that Bayern will be contesting alongside them. Their performance, and indeed performances throughout the season, has been slightly overlooked in the rush to criticise Barcelona.

This is a side who have looked unstoppable in their domestic league, claiming the title being a mammoth 20-points ahead of fellow Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund. The signings of Dante and Mario Mandzukic - neither of which grabbed headlines last summer - have proved to be masterstrokes, while Javi Martinez - for whom they admitted they'd paid over the odds - has shown to be worth the expenditure. They've signed Mario Gotze for next season, and Robert Lewandowski may yet arrive. Definitely arriving is Pep Guardiola, though it's difficult to see how much he needs to change.

His appointment brings a certain symmetry to this supposed changing of the guard, a zigzag of philosophies passed from Rinus Michels through Johan Cruyff, to Louis van Gaal to Guardiola himself, with the ideologies represented at both clubs now more than ever.

Yet no club has ever retained the Champions League, and it will still be a huge task. Barcelona will be lining up for revenge, while Madrid look like they will still be pursuing Il Decima. Dortmund could be there again, if they can hold onto their stars. Then there's the two Manchesters - United and City - as well as Chelsea; Juventus; PSG.

This may not be the end of Barcelona's era so much as it is the last we'll see one side truly dominate.

The end of an era of eras.