Barcelona won their fifth European Cup on Saturday night as the Spanish champions defeated Italian champions Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final in Berlin.
All three of their dangerous front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez had a hand, or foot in the Barcelona goals.
The genius of Lionel Messi is undeniable and his good work led to Barcelona’s second goal scored by Luis Suarez.
However, for me he enjoyed a quiet night by his high standards in Berlin, but the Argentinians standards are about as high as they get.
Messi is often lauded by the media and fans alike, so some of his teammates often get lost in the praise and congratulations. However, football is a team game and his colleagues deserve praise.
Messi’s combination play with Brazilian star Neymar and Uruguayan star Luis Suarez has been a joy to watch this season. Messi may be the most highly-rated of the trio, but the other two are perfect foils for the diminutive star.
Suarez did not have his most productive night, but he was in the right position to poach the Blaugrana’s second goal. He also worked his socks of closing down up front. At times he sacrifices himself for the sake of the team and does the dirty work for his fellow South Americans in attack.
Neymar arrived at Barcelona in the summer of 2013 from Santos as the player regarded as the next big superstar off the Brazilian conveyer belt. He was perceived as big-headed and arrogant by some in the Catalan capital.
Neymar was always the star at Santos and everything went through him. When he got to Spain he seemed to have a problem playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi, but once it dawn on him that everybody at Barcelona takes a backseat to the former-Ballon d’Or winner he has thrived.
His acceptance of a supporting role has helped him become a massive success this season. His relationship both on and off the pitch has reportedly blossomed. The youngster’s performances have also earned the respect of the great Messi.
Neymar produced the best performance of the MSN on Saturday night. He looked like a constant threat all game. The Brazilian played a part in the opening goal, had a goal disallowed and rounded off the victory with a goal in stoppage-time.
It looks like the Brazilian star is now maturing and starting to fulfil his immense potential. His final strike was the 23-year-olds 40th goal in all competitions in just 45 appearances this season. He may be behind his fellow South American Messi in the goalscoring stakes, but he has had a big influence on Barcelona’s performances this season.
It is fair to say that Andres Iniesta has not enjoyed the best of time in recent seasons, even going a year without scoring or assisting. However, he has turned his form around to have the most assists in the competition.
In the final he produced a typically dynamic performance in the heart of the Barcelona midfield alongside Ivan Rakitic. The Spaniard set-up the opening goal for his central midfield partner and was generally influential.
Rakitic captained Sevilla to the Europa League last season and has fitted in well in the Barcelona midfield. The 27-year-old has proven an inspired signing and his performances have limited Xavi’s appearances this season.
Talking of Xavi, the Barcelona legend signed-off his Barcelona career with a Champions League victory. The 35-year-old only made a cameo appearance in final, but picked-up his fourth European Cup winners medal.
Xavi will now embark on a new stage of his career in the Middle East with Qatari club Al Sadd. He could not have enjoyed a better send-off than a victory in the Champions League final.
Down the years Barcelona has produced some fantastic teams, including Pep Guardiola’s team which is still considered by many to have been the best club team in the history of the European game.
However, this Barcelona team has the potential to be just as good as any that the Catalan giants have produced in the past. Despite being more direct than previous teams, the football that they produce at times is simply breathtaking.
The front three are probably the best trio that have graced the game in the modern era. Only time will tell if the current Barcelona team is seen as one of the clubs best, but for now their European Cup triumph confirms that Barcelona are the best team Europe.
Who was the Champions League final man of the match?
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