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Soccer-Bayern left hoping for Munich miracle to overcome Barca

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By Karolos Grohmann

May 7 (Reuters) - Bayern will need a Munich miracle to retain their dream of reaching the Champions League final on home soil after the five-time champions slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Barcelona in their semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

The Bavarians were hoping to set the foundations for their fourth final appearance in six seasons next month in Berlin, and a first under coach Pep Guardiola, with a solid display in Spain.

Instead they were outclassed by the Catalans, who scored three times in the last 13 minutes to go into next week's return leg as overwhelming favourites after Bayern ran out of steam towards the end of the game.

"I am not really a friend of big words because when you lose 3-0 then the chances are obviously not great," club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a post-midnight dinner in Barcelona.

"But maybe there will be a football wonder in Munich."

The Bavarians have already overturned a big first-leg deficit once this campaign when they lost 3-1 at Porto in the quarter-finals only to crush them 6-1 back in Munich.

But after Lionel Messi scored twice in a scintillating performance and Neymar added a late third as part of an impressive team display, few believe Bayern can turn it around once more against a side as strong as Barcelona.

Missing key players, especially injured wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, the Bavarians lack the kind of pace down either flank that would cause major problems for any team.

"Without Arjen and Franck we did not have our two counter-attack players and that made things difficult," said Guardiola, who won 14 triphies in four years at Barca.

"The return leg now becomes very complicated but we will give it a shot."

Robben is out for the rest of the season, while Ribery, already injured for about two months, remains doubtful for the return leg, with David Alaba and Holger Badstuber also out.

Only a few weeks ago, Bayern looked on course for a repeat of their 2013 treble but after last week's German Cup exit and their loss to Barcelona, they now need to stage a monumental upset just to reach the final.

"We are Bayern and we keep our heads held high," midfielder Thomas Mueller said. "We cannot expect to have a return leg like we had against Porto."

"But the 11 players who will be on the pitch will fight until the last second but it is clear that we now need a small football wonder." (Editing by John O'Brien)

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