Barcelona wins its fifth Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BARCELONA 3, JU­VEN­TUS 1 BY ROB HAR­RIS

BER­LIN — Barcelona’s mighty at­tack­ing trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar won the Cham­pi­ons League on Satur­day in Ber­lin with a 3-1 victory over Ju­ven­tus that showed the beauty of flu­ent and at­tack­ing soc­cer af­ter days of scan­dal that have tar­nished the sport.

The Span­ish cham­pion dom­i­nated the game, but the Ital­ian team played its part by fight­ing back from a goal down and seek­ing to match the com­plex spells wo­ven by Barcelona’s tal­ented play­ers.

Ul­ti­mately, Ju­ven­tus could not hang in there when Barca ac­cel­er­ated into an un­match­able rhythm.

Watched by more than 70,000 peo­ple in Ber­lin’s Olympic Sta­dium, Ju­ven­tus striker Al­varo Mo­rata can­celed out Ivan Rakitic’s early opener, Messi set up the vi­tal for Suarez and Ney­mar se­cured Barcelona’s fifth Euro­pean Cup deep into stop­page time with the last kick of the game.

Messi, Suarez and Ney­mar com­plete the sea­son with a com­bined 122 goals — and now Euro­pean win­ners medals to join their league and cup ones.

Three years af­ter then-coach Pep Guardi­ola left Barcelona and af­ter last sea­son ended with­out a tro­phy, Luis Enrique matched Guardi­ola’s 2008-09 feat of win­ning a tre­ble in his first sea­son in charge.

“A mag­nif­i­cent, spec­tac­u­lar day,” Enrique said.

With a first Cham­pi­ons League tri­umph since 2011, Barca has­won Euro­pean soc­cer’s top tro­phy four times in the last decade.

An­dres Ini­esta has fea­tured in each fi­nal, and the mid­fielder is also cel­e­brat­ing his sec­ond tre­ble. Ini­esta played a deep de­fen­sive mid­field role in Ber­lin as the strik­ers caused havoc in the pan­icky Ju­ven­tus de­fense.

“We won’t see this hap­pen again very of­ten,” Ini­esta said. “Six years later we did [the tre­ble] again. Allmy words fall short. Let the peo­ple en­joy this Barca.”

Few will be en­joy­ing the victory more than Suarez.

The Uruguay striker be­gan the sea­son in shame. He signed from Liver­pool for $110 mil­lion de­spite be­ing handed a four-month ban by FIFA for bit­ing an op­po­nent at the World Cup.

On Satur­day, he pow­ered in Barcelona’s sec­ond goal in the 68th minute af­ter Messi’s shot was palmed away by goal­keeper Gianluigi Buf­fon.

“When you come to a team like Barca, you know that you have come to win,” Suarez said. “This is a dream.”

Suarez is rarely far from con­tro­versy, how­ever. Twice he writhed around in agony, win­ning free kicks and feign­ing se­ri­ous in­jury. Ju­ven­tus fans yelled de­ri­sively when he re­cov­ered mirac­u­lously af­ter wast­ing min­utes.

Just like Suarez, Ney­mar has col­lected the top prize in club soc­cer for the first time af­ter two years at Barcelona.

For Ju­ven­tus, there was no third Euro­pean ti­tle, just the un sec­ond wel­come record of be­ing the first team to lose six fi­nals.

Still, the sea­son ends with a do­mes­tic dou­ble.

“While we’ve played a lot of fi­nals, a lot of us had never played a Cham­pi­ons fi­nal,” Ju­ven­tus mid­fielder Clau­dio Marchi­sio said. “There was a bit of fear.”

The Ital­ian cham­pion ini­tially looked like it could cause an up­set against the most dom­i­nant team in Europe in the mod­ern era. As­sertive from kick­off, Ju­ven­tus made Barcelona look anx­ious ini­tially. It didn’t last long— just four min­utes, in fact.

In a de­light­ful move that in­volved all 10 out­field play­ers touch­ing the ball start­ing with Jordi Alba’s throw in, Barcelona took the lead.

So of­ten the provider of goals, Messi de­liv­ered a pre­cise cross­field pass in the goal­ward ad­vance. It landed at the feet of Alba, who played in Ney­mar, and the ball was then slipped through to Ini­esta. With a flick, Ini­esta squared for Rakitic to score from close range past Buf­fon.


Play­ers cel­e­brate Barca’s first Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle since 2011. LionelMessi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez com­bined for 122 goals this year.

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