Barcelona 3, Juventus 1: On the night, Barca didn’t quite perform to their very best. They were somewhat wasteful in the openings they created, a couple of 5 on 3 counter attacks included. They took their foot off the gas for long periods of the game and were even on the backfoot for ten or so minutes after Juve equalised. But in the end, it didn’t matter.
Barca cantered to victory against a very good Juventus side, recording their fifth Champions League success and becoming the first European club to complete two trebles. They always looked like they had an extra gear in reserve; like they could penetrate Juve’s defence whenever they desired.
Messi was at times unplayable–quelle surprise. An industrious Suárez, though heavily-shackled, was an ever-willing runner and deserved his goal. Neymar was a constant outlet and threat, being denied a goal for an accidental handball before finally wrapping the game up in the dying seconds. Iniesta kept Barca ticking over and provided the assist for Rakitić’s opener, who himself was composed throughout, showing once again that he can fill the departing Xavi’s boots. Busquets went about his business patrolling the midfield with little fuss. Alba and Alves were tireless up and down their respective flanks. Piqué and Mascherano had no more than a few scares, despite at times being left dangerously exposed, while ter Stegen showed a range of passing that even some central midfielders cannot match.
After the final whistle, Xavi, who replaced Iniesta for the last quarter of an hour, lifted the trophy in what was his last appearance in a glittering career for the club. It was a fitting send-off, the kind Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard could only have dreamed of.
This Barca team is arguably a step above even the the great teams Xavi was the conductor of under Pep Guardiola. With the exception of Alves, who may well depart in the summer, the remaining ten starters all have at least a couple of years of top-level football left in them. They are men in their footballing primes. Their manager, Luis Enrique, doesn’t need to do much more than send them out onto the pitch and let them play.
Can anyone stop them? Few would bank against Barcelona becoming the first team to retain the European Cup in the modern Champions League era.