FC Barcelona beat Juventus 3–1 and claim Champions League title
Barça complete historic second treble with convincing victory in Berlin.FC Barcelona rode goals from Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suárez, and an injury-time clincher by Neymar Jr to claim the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League title on Saturday night at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany. The victory gives FC Barcelona their fourth Champions League title in the last 10 years — their fifth in team history — and an unprecedented second treble, adding a layer of reinforced concrete to the Catalans' already rock-solid status as a dynasty for the ages.
Barcelona (FCB).- FC Barcelona rode goals from Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suárez, and an injury-time clincher by Neymar Jr to claim the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League title on Saturday night at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany. The victory gives FC Barcelona their fourth Champions League title in the last 10 years — their fifth in team history — and an unprecedented second treble, adding a layer of reinforced concrete to the Catalans' already rock-solid status as a dynasty for the ages.
While annual modifications to any top-tier squad are inevitable, a steady core of players — led by the Argentinian virtuoso Lionel Messi — has anchored the Catalan club during a run of footballing dominance the likes of which has never been witnessed before. Over the past decade Barça have scooped up titles at a prolific pace with an astounding haul of 24 major trophies in six different competitions.
One of the main cogs to Barça's perennial juggernaut and perhaps the keymaster to the team's on-field personality and unmistakeable style of play has been midfielder and captain Xavi Hernández, who donned the blaugrana shirt for the final time on Saturday night and was duly ceded the prestigious honour of lifting the cup.
For FC Barcelona's first-year head coach Luis Enrique Martínez, his immense first-year success mimics that of Pep Guardiola, who was also in his first year at the helm when Barça swept the same three titles back in the 2008/09 season. "Congratulations to all the Barça fans and family. It'll be a long night and then tomorrow we have the parade," Luis Enrique said on the field, before humbly adding, "After all these games, I'd just like to thank everyone who put their trust in me."
Saturday's win means they'll now have a chance to equal their 2009 record take of six championships in one year. Winning La Liga, the Spanish Cup, and the Champions League has earned them another shot at the Spanish and European Super Cups — to be disputed in August — as well as the FIFA Club World Cup, scheduled for December. Barça will almost certainly go into all three as the heavy favourites.
Although Juventus were vying for a treble of their own on Saturday — they had already bagged this season's Serie A and Coppa Italia — the Turin-based team came into this match as clear underdogs. When the final whistle faded into the balmy Berlin night, it was clear why FC Barcelona had been so widely expected to take home the hardware.
Despite a nerve-racking start that included a pair of sloppy Barça turnovers deep in their own end, minute four yielded the game’s first goal when midfielder Ivan Rakitic slotted home a feed from Andrés Iniesta for a 1–0 lead. Messi, who found Neymar with a deep, cross-field pass that appeared to catch the Juve defence off-guard, brilliantly set up the play. Coming precisely at the 3:23 mark, the goal was FC Barcelona’s fastest ever in a European final. "That has to be the most important goal of my career,” Rakitic said after the game.
Juventus reacted by promptly clamping down on their back line, while allowing the Catalans to continue dominating possession. Other than one excellent scoring opportunity by blaugrana defender Dani Alves on 12 minutes that was deftly palmed away by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, neither side enjoyed much more than a scattering of innocuous chances.
Four minutes after the break, in the 49th, Barça stormed out on a five-on-three counter attack, but Buffon made a brilliant save as Luis Suárez tried to sneak it inside the near post. Two minutes later, Suárez and Messi sent hard, open shots well over the net.
The Italians deployed a predictable strategy of aggressive midfield challenges throughout the encounter. And it finally paid off when they drew level after 55 minutes, taking advantage of a rare foray into the Barcelona penalty area. Carlos Tévez’s open shot was saved Marc-André ter Stegen, but the rebound kicked straight to Álvaro Morata, who dumped it into the open net.
The equaliser energised Juve, if only for the next dozen minutes. It was then that Messi carried all the way from midfield and unleashed a hard shot on goal that was stopped by Buffon. But the rebound trickled away and Suárez finished to put Barça back in front, 2–1 at the 67-minute mark.
Players from both teams started to feel the effects of having gone all-out in their last game at the end of the long season. The final twenty minutes featured a paucity of truly menacing runs at either goal. The few scares that materialised were all off target.
Five minutes of injury time ticked away with a pair of substitutions and a stray corner kick before one last Barça counterattack. With victory assured and the final whistle inevitable, Neymar blew a shot past Buffon for the definitive 3–1 score, sending the FC Barcelona players, and their fans, into a state of euphoria.