Five reasons why Barcelona are kings of Europeanfootball with their 3-1 Champions League triumph over Juventus on Saturday:
– Suarez goes from bite ban to Barca hero
Luis Suarez’s Barcelona career started late as he served a four-month ban for biting Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
Barca’s faith in the Uruguayan despite his well-known misdemeanours has been richly rewarded, not just with the winning goal with his side on the ropes after Alvaro Morata’s shock equaliser, but with a series of crucial strikes that landed the Catalans the treble.
Suarez also netted the winner in the vital 2-1 win over Real Madrid in March to set Barca on course for the La Liga title and scored doubles in the away wins at Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain on route to the Champions League final.
– Barca more than Messi
The Argentine showed flashes of his brilliance despite not managing to become the first man to score in three Champions League finals, most notably with a powerful drive than Gianluigi Buffon parried into the path of Suarez to turn home the crucial second goal.
However, this was a triumph for a Barca team often overshadowed by the remarkable 122 goals scored by Messi, Suarez and Neymar this season.
Andres Iniesta was named man-of-the-match after his glorious assist for Ivan Rakitic’s early opener, the defence held firm under fire in the second-half, and Pedro’s unselfishness to tee up Neymar for the third goal in stoppage time spoke volumes of a team-spirit rarely demonstrated by a squad packed full of star names.
– Buffon brilliance not enough
The Italian legend rolled back the years on the ground where he became a world champion nine years ago by keeping his side in the game with incredible saves from Dani Alves and Suarez as Barca threatened to run riot at 1-0.
However, the 37-year-old remains without aChampions League winner’s medal as after losing out to AC Milan on penalties in the 2003 final, his heroics weren’t enough to keep out a rampant Barcelona.
– Madrid calling for Morata?
Discarded by his boyhood club Real Madrid at the start of the season, Morata has proved his worth by becoming the first Spaniard to score in both legs of aChampions League semi-final and the final in the same year.
Madrid were the victims of his prowess in the last four and the first goal of his career against Barcelona will do nothing to dampen down the calls for Los Blancos to exercise their buy-back option on the 22-year-old next summer.
– Rakitic better than Cesc
The sale of Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea to make way for Rakitic last June was seen as a reactive move after the former’s poor end to a trophyless campaign last season.
However, Rakitic’s energy and eye for goal has complemented the talents of Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta even better than their Spanish international colleague during an ultimately disappointing three-year spell at the Camp Nou.
And there was no better illustration of that than the Croatian’s cool finish from Iniesta’s lovely pass after just four minutes to give Barca a flying start in Berlin.
– Agence France-Presse