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We've put together a special section on fcbarcelona.com as a tribute to the recent historic accomplishments of FC Barcelona
The 2014/15 season is history. Now that the month of July has rolled in and brought with it the 2015/16 preseason, we take a look back at perhaps the greatest season in FC Barcelona history. The team will forever be remembered as having won the Club's unprecedented second Treble, and we at www.fcbarcelona.com have created a special section to bring together the 2014/15 season's historic and memorable achievements, all under one roof.
We pick the key moments from FC Barcelona's successful quest to win the trophy for the fifth time
Barça won the Champions League the hard way, beating the holders of all the major European league titles en route to victory. PSG, Manchester City and Bayern Munich were all disposed of before Serie A Juventus were added to the list in the final. We pick five of the most outstanding moments as the Catalans won the trophy for the fifth time in their history:
1. Winning start against APOEL
The 2014/15 campaign began with a tougher test than many had expected against Cypriot outfit APOEL. Piqué got the only goal in Luis Enrique’s first European game in charge. Ter Stegen, Munir El Haddadi, Sergi Samper and Sandro also debuted in the competition that day.
2. Defeat at Parc des Princes
Barça hadn’t lost all season until the trip to Paris. The 3-2 defeat meant PSG took over at the top of the Group F table. Xavi Hernández set a new record for appearances in the Champions League, 143, an honour that until then had been held by Ryan Giggs.
3. First goal for Suárez and new record for Messi
Luis Suárez, back from suspension following an incident at the World Cup, scored his first official goal in a Barça shirt to open the scoring in Nicosia. Messi then added a second to become the all-time leading goalscorer in the Champions League with 72 goals.
4. Back on top
Barça beat PSG 3-1 in the final group match to qualify as group winners for the eighth season in a row. Ibrahimović put the Parisians into an early lead, but Messi and Neymar had turned things around by half-time and Luis Suárez settled things in the second half.
5. Ter Stegen saves Sergio Agüero penalty
Barça were winning 1-0 against Manchester City at the Camp Nou after already beating the Premiership champions 2-1 at the Etihad. But with 12 minutes to go, City were thrown a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty. Ter Stegen saved Kun Agüero’s spot kick and that was game over.
6. Messi nutmegs Milner
Lionel Messi never stops amazing the world with his stunning ball skills. Manchester City’s James Milner was on the receiving end of this cheeky nutmeg, which left the Englishman flailing on the floor.
7. And Luis Suárez does the same to David Luiz. Twice!
Barça beat PSG in the quarter finals. Neymar scored the first off a fine Messi assist, but the night belonged to Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan slipped the ball through the legs of Brazilian David Luiz not once but twice before finding the net.
8. Messi runs riot against Bayern
With two stunning goals in the last twenty minutes, the Argentinian ace was the hero of the first leg against the Bundesliga champions. The Bayern defence was powerless to stop him. Messi’s lightning run left Prince Boateng floored as he scored his first and the way he lifted the ball over Neuer’s head to score his second was absolute class.
9. Xavi reaches 150 games in Champions League
Luis Enrique sent Xavi on in the 75th minute at the Allianz Arena, and the midfielder thus became the first player ever to make it to 150 games in the Champions League. A new record for the Barça icon.
10. Juventus beaten and champions again
Barça finally secured their fifth continental crown at the Olympiastadion in Berlin with a 3-1 victory over Juventus. Rakitic opened the scoring and although the Italians equalised, the Catalans marched on to be worthy winners of the competition.
FC Barcelona are among the 22 teams that go straight into the group stage, while 56 other clubs will battle for the remaining places - the draw on Monday 22 June sets it all in motion
With FC Barcelona’s victory in the final of the UEFA Champions League in Berlin still fresh in the mind, attention is already turning to next season’s edition of Europe’s premier club competition. It all starts on June 30, with the first qualifying round, and won’t end until May 28 when the San Siro in Milan is the venue for the 2016 Final.
Barça are among the 22 teams that for different reasons are already through to the all-important group stage. They will also be one of the seeds following the introduction of the new rule that the winners of the seven highest ranked leagues in Europe will be the top seeds, the others being Bayern, Chelsea, Benfica, PSG, Juventus and Zenit. These seven were to be joined by the defending champions. But that side is Barça, who are already seeded as Spanish Liga champions. The extra place should instead go to the beaten finalists. However, Juventus are also already seeded after winning Italy’s Serie A, so the winners of the eighth highest ranked league in Europe, PSV of Holland, go into pot number one.
La Liga will also be represented in the group stage by Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, as well as Sevilla, who have become the first beneficiaries of the new rule that awards a berth to the winners of the previous season’s Europa League. None of these teams can be drawn in the same group as Barça.
The other eleven teams that go straight into the groups are Manchester City, Arsenal, Wolfsburg, Borussia Monchengladbach, Roma, Porto, Lyon, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent, Galatasaray and Olympiacos.
Ready for first draw
The remaining 56 teams will be playing a series of qualifying rounds to decide the ten clubs that will join the previous 22 in the draw to be held in Monaco on August 27.
The draws for the first two qualifying rounds will take place on June 22 and from here the teams will be whittled down to fifteen, who will be joined by Valencia, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting Lisbon and Lazio in the final play-off round.
Best goal celebrations of the 2014-15 season
A look at how each player fared in eight key categories in the treble winning season
FC Barcelona have just completed one the most glorious of their 115 seasons, winning both the major domestic trophies and adding their fifth Champions League title as well. Here’s a break-down of how each of the first team members, plus the B team players that helped out now and again, fared overall in the three different competitions in eight key statistic categories.
Two goals each from Rakitic and Messi, along with another from Suárez made the list, voted on by UEFA
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has announced its list of the ten best goals of the 2014/15 Champions League, half of which were scored by FC Barcelona. According to the organisation, two goals each from Ivan Rakitic and Lionel Messi, and another courtesy of Luis Suárez, were among the worthiest of the tournament, which ended with Barça's triumph over Juventus in the 6 June Final in Berlin, Germany.
The other half of the list are goals from the Real Madrid strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski and Porto's Vincent Aboubakar. Here's the list, including the game in which the goal was scored.
1). Cristiano Ronaldo (Liverpool 0–3 Real Madrid, 22/10/14)
2). Ivan Rakitic (Juventus 1–3 FC Barcelona, 06/06/15)
3). Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona 3–0 Bayern Munich, 06/05/15)
4). Luis Suárez (PSG 1–3 FC Barcelona, 15/04/15)
5). Ivan Rakitic (FC Barcelona 1–0 Manchester City, 18/03/15)
6). Marco Reus (Galatasaray 0–4 Borussia Dortmund, 22/10/14)
7). Karim Benzema (Real Madrid 5–1 Basel, 16/09/14)
8). Lionel Messi (PSG 3–2 FC Barcelona, 30/09/14)
9). Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich 6–1 Porto, 21/04/15)
10). Vincent Aboubakar (Porto 4–0 Basel, 10/03/15)
Posa’t a prova amb 13 preguntes, una per partit, sobre el títol assolit pel FC Barcelona a Berlín
Ter Stegen, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suárez and Neymar are chosen for the UCL squad of the season
Ten of the players chosen in the UEFA Technical Observers' best UEFA Champions League squad 2014/15 represent FC Barcelona. This Thursday, uefa.com published an infographic of the full team. Ter Stegen, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suárez and Neymar made the list. Here's a look at what they did to merit their selection:
Marc-André ter Stegen
The German played in the Champions League and the Spanish Cup this season. Against European competition he conceded 11 goals in 13 games (0.85 per game). One of the highlights was when ter Stegen stopped Kun Aguero's penalty kick in the return leg of the last 16. In the Final, ter Stegen was key in overcoming the pressure of Juventus.
Piqué scored Barça's first goal in the 2014/15 Champions League against APOEL. Beyond that, the centre-back shined as the leader of the defence. Playing in 11 of the 13 games, he was outstanding in the aerial game and precise on the outlet.
With 12 appearances in the 13 games, Mascherano was a stalwart for the Barça defence and, occasionally, in midfield. He was fourth in passes completed in the tournament.
The ever-present left-back in Luis Enrique's schemes brought defensive consistency and offensive depth, like on Barça's first goal in Berlin. Alba was eight in passes completed in the tournament
The centre half-back was a regular in Barça'a midfield backbone. Busquets gave the team balance and circulated the ball with speed and accuracy. He was a key in the battle for midfield at the Olympiastadion Berlin.
The Croatian was a machine. Tactically perfect, helping out everywhere, and technically superb, he also contributed two decisive goals — in the return leg versus Manchester City (1-0) and the first goal of the Final against Juventus (1-3).
The emblem of the Barcelona midfield. His play at Camp Nou against PSG that ended with a goal from Neymar made headlines around the world. In the Final he gave an authentic exhibition. Despite being doubtful for the Final, he assisted the first goal and was chosen as the MVP of the game.
The only Barça outfield player to appear in all 13 matches in the Champions League. Messi scored 10 goals and had six assists. He was the top scorer of the tournament for the fifth time, this time tied with Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. He altered the first leg of the semi-finals against Bayern with two genius plays and took part in all three goals in the Final.
Despite missing the first three games of the competition, Suárez played the ten remaining and scored seven goals. His best performances were at the Etihad and Parc des Princes, where he scored two goals. In the Final, he scored the game-winner.
One of the three co-scoring leaders of the 2014/15 Champions League, Neymar led the tournament in fouls received, with 39. His goals clinched the ties with PSG and Bayern with two goals in each return leg. He scored the third and final goal in Berlin.
The other side of the UEFA Champions League Final
Ter Stegen, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suárez and Neymar
Ten of the players chosen in the UEFA Technical Observers' Best UEFA Champions League Squad 2014/15 represent FC Barcelona, with five Juventus men making the cut
A collection of the finest six-second clips of a wonderful evening for fans and players alike
The evening of June 7 was the time to celebrate the historic conquest of the Liga-Cup-Champions League treble. Here are some of the highlights in Vine format:
1. Dani Alves with the fans
2. Neymar, Messi and Suárez share hamburgers
3. Neymar's dance
4. Messi during the parade
5. The party never stops!
6. Barcelona flooded with fans
A colourful light show accompanied by music and euphoric players caps a historic season for FC Barcelona
By all measures, it was a proper party to cap a record season for FC Barcelona. The team arrived at Camp Nou after a majestic parade through the streets of Barcelona that brought together thousands of fans to celebrate the La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League titles attained after ten months of competition.
A fabulous intro with children going to bed and dreaming of Barça, videos showing the best goals of the season, and a colourful laser light show, set to music that wowed both the 70,000 attendees assembled at the stadium and the team out on the pitch.
One by one, public address announcer Manel Vich presented the members of the staff and the players, with Messi, Sergio, Iniesta and Xavi, the four captains, coming out last. The ceremony lacked only one player — the goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who, on Thursday, will begin the Copa América.
Down on the field, Luis Enrique was the first to address the fans, followed by Xavi, acting as emcee.
There were words to suit everyone: from Iniesta and Messi transmitting their satisfaction to the euphoria unleashed by Pique, the excitement of Alves, Pedro's perfect Catalan and Ter Stegen's Spanish.
Close to midnight, the team ended the celebration with a final victory lap and an impressive fireworks show.
In speeches during the treble celebration, the coach and players thank the fans for their support throughout the season; players assure fans they're hungry for more
After treble-winners FC Barcelona arrived at Camp Nou, coach Luis Enrique Martínez, shielded by "three Cups as shiny as three suns" and cheered by tens of thousands of fans who came to the stadium, had words of thanks for all those present. "We all know that it has been difficult and we had to suffer to get here. We asked to supports us when the chips were down and you delivered. We are very grateful because with you we are stronger and we have proved it," he said.
In addition, the coach wanted to make another appeal, as he did three weeks ago, during the celebration of the league title: "We ask again that you stay close to the team. I hope they'll make history again, because the hunger and ambition of these players knows no limits."
The players' turn
But Luis Enrique was not the only one who took the microphone to address the fans. The coach gave way to the captain who, in his farewell, was the master of ceremonies, and called on his teammates to give some words. Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
Xavi: "We have the treble. I'm going to miss you all a lot."
Iniesta: “I just want to say I'm very proud to form a part of this Club.”
Messi: "You wanted all three, right? Well you've got all three right here!"
Alves: "I'm one of you! Thanks a lot!"
Piqué: “I swear I never thought that this would happen again, but it did!"
Neymar: “I've only got two things to say: visca el Barça and visca Catalunya!”
Sergio: "This team has made history and we want more. We won't stop!"
Jordi Alba: "Today's the happiest day of my career."
Rakitic: “Impressive. Thanks for making me feel at home.”
Ter Stegen: “It isn't easy for me to speak Spanish so I only want to say I'm very happy to have won the treble. Thanks!"
A video reminder of FC Barcelona's triumphant march towards European glory
Xavi lifted the Champions League trophy at the Olympiastadion, Berlin on Saturday night to top off what has been a truly remarkable campaign for the Catalan club. Luis Enrique and his team won the title the hard way, beating the champions of all of Europe’s biggest leagues en route.
In the group stages, they faced the champions of Holland, France and Cyprus, namely Ajax, PSG and APOEL. First up in the knockout stage were Premiership champions Manchester City, who Barça beat 3-1 on aggregate. In the quarter finals they met PSG once again, putting the Ligue 1 title holders out to the tune of a 5-1 aggregate victory. The semi-finals matched them with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, and a tremendous display saw them through to the final, where Serie A champions Juventus awaited. The Italians were beaten 3-1 in Berlin, and a historic treble was completed. What a season!
Barça's second treble and fifth Champions League title makes headlines from Buenos Aires to Berlin
All over the world on Sunday morning, groggy-eyed international readers woke up, got a cup of coffee, and went for either their favourite newspaper or electronic device. Whether they were glancing at a front page or a home page, one piece of news was nearly ubiquitous — FC Barcelona’s historic victory in the UEFA Champions League.
It is rare to see a single sporting event make front-page news on multiple continents, but that’s exactly what happened on 7 June 2015, as the Catalan club’s record-breaking Saturday evening had deep appeal from Berlin to Buenos Aires.
Argentina lauded Lionel Messi, Brazil cited the role of Neymar, and scores of other outlets unanimously hailed the team’s unprecedented achievements.
Here’s a closer look at what several of the world’s most influential papers had to say:
La Vanguardia (Catalonia) — FC Barcelona’s hometown newspaper used the entire front page for an image of Messi kissing the Cup with the title, “Barça of Prodigies.” The subtitle read: “The blaugranes win the Champions League 3–1 over a combative Juventus and conquer their second treble.”
El País (Spain) — The Madrid-based leading newspaper on the Iberian Peninsula, not exactly a bastion of pro-Barça news, featured a prominent image of Xavi Hernández lifting the Cup. “Barça conquer their fifth,” it said, adding, “The blaugranes close out a magical season by taking the Champions League as well after vanquishing Juventus (3–1) in an exciting Final.”
Corriere della Sera (Italy) — “A stellar Barça switch off Juve’s dream,” was how the Italian daily called it.
La Stampa (Italy) — Juventus’ home paper, the Turin-based daily, was humble in defeat: “A warrior-like Juve not enough against Barça.”
Die Zeit (Germany) — “Such wonderful football,” lauded the Hamburg-based weekly, contrasting the Final with the recent scandals engulfing FIFA and declaring that Barça and Juve brought football back for “an evening of dignity and class.”
L’Equipe (France) — In a country where the UEFA Champions League Final went up against the French Open men’s and women’s finals at Roland Garros, the sports daily was unequivocal: “The coronation of a dynasty,” while adding that “Juventus were close to shaking off the best team of the decade.”
Clarín (Argentina) — It was no surprise that the Buenos Aires-based daily newspaper praised the figure of their beloved countryman: “Historic: Messi tops among Argentinians with most titles.”
Olé (Argentina) — This national sports daily further extolled the greatness of Messi, pictured holding the Cup aloft. "Another one! Another one!" ran the headline, while adding a touch of detail: "Barça beat Juve 3–1 in a fantastic final. Messi gets 24th title and 4th Champions League. He and [Carlos] Tévez force two goals. Now the Argentinian stars must move their focus to the Copa América."
O Globo (Brazil) — As was the case with Messi, the Brazilian media had words of praise for Neymar, who scored the final goal of the game in injury time: “Neymar shines in the Champions League with artillery and title.”
The New York Times (USA) — “Barcelona Overwhelms Juventus to Win Fifth Champions League Title,” declared the most prestigious American paper, highlighting the role of Barça’s famed trident: “Behind its three superstar scorers, Barcelona completed a so-called treble, having taken both the Spanish league and the Spanish cup titles.”
The Guardian (UK) — The British daily also cited Barça’s prolific front line: “Suárez, Messi and Neymar too good for Juventus.”
The Wall Street Journal (USA) — This influential American daily, known more for finance than football, recognised the transcendence of Barça’s once-in-a-lifetime squad and didn’t mince words: “Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Juventus for the Champions League title was more than the top team in Spain grinding down the top team in Italy. Barcelona won its fourth Champions League title in a decade to cement its status as the most dominant club of its generation,” it declared.
In his first season in charge of the Club, Luis Enrique has joined an exclusive club of coaches who have achieved success in the League, domestic Cup and European Cup in the same season
Barça’s win against Juventus made them the first team to claim two trebles of League Cup and Champions League success and coach Luis Enrique has also claimed his place in history as only the eight manager to achieve the feat – and that in his first year at the Club.
Luis Enrique joins Jock Stein (Celtic, 1967), Stefan Kovacs (Ajax, 1972), Guus Hiddink (PSV Eindhoven, 1988), Alex Ferguson (Manchester United, 1999), Pep Guardiola (Barça, 2009), José Mourinho (Inter, 2010) and Jupp Heynckes (Bayern, 2013) in the exclusive club of managers to claim a treble.
Second treble winning coach at Barça
Luis Enrique follows on from Pep Guardiola, as the second Barça boss to take a treble after the Catalan beat Manchester United at Wembley in 2009 to add to that season’s League and Cup triumphs with a number of players still in the current squad.
Twenty thousand fans celebrate Barça's unforgettable night at the Olympiastadion
The dream of a fifth UEFA Champions League title and second treble became reality on Saturday night in Berlin, where close to 20,000 Barça fans lived it live from the majestic Olympiastadion. An entire section behind one of the goals was dyed blue and maroon. It was especially spectacular before kick off when the fans held up a mosaic with the Club motto, més que un club.
It was a spectacular event as fans from both sides came to the Olympiastadion after enjoying the streets of the German capital, cheering tirelessly.
The Barça fans exploded with the early Rakitic goal, and then held in there when Morata pulled Juve level in the second half. Suárez's goal that made it 2-1, and Neymar's in injury time on the last play of the game unleashed the euphoria in Germany.
The post-game celebration after the game was epic. First there was the iconic image of Xavi lifting the trophy. Later, neither the players nor the fans wanted to leave perhaps the most memorable scene in the history of the Club. An hour after the conclusion of the match, players were still on the grass, just to make sure that what they had experienced was not a dream.
See all the top plays from Saturday's historic victory that gave Barça their second treble in Club history
The UEFA Champions League Final is always a memorable game. Don't miss this opportunity to relive the match against Juventus. Rakitic's goal, Morata's tying score, Luis Suarez's go-ahead goal and Neymar's clincher. Xavi then lifted the Champions League trophy before the team celebrated their second treble.
The triumph in Berlin has unleashed unbridled joy amongst Barça fans
For the second Saturday on the run, the emblematic fountain on the Barcelona Rambla is filling up with celebrating Barça fans after the team won their fifth European Cup
The Barça fans are out in force at the emblematic Font de Canaletes on the Barcelona Rambla tonight after Barça crowned their treble winning season with the Club’s fifth European Cup.
When the final whistle went in Berlin, the Barça fans began to flood into Canaletes for the second Saturday night on the run following last weekend’s Spanish Cup win over Bilbao as what is sure to be another long night of celebrations began!
The first-year coach believes his squad deserved the win over an outstanding rival
Luis Enrique described his team's performance as "spectacular" after they won the UEFA Champions League for the fifth time in Club history and completed a historic second treble. "I think we played a spectacular final against top opponents like Juventus. We created more chances than them and I think we were better. We deserved to win the final," he said following the game.
Here are the highlights of what Luis Enrique had to say:
On the season:
"We played 60 games, with a record of 50 wins, four draws and six defeats.""I congratulate the players. Their quality and solidarity are indisputable."
"FC Barcelona is the best club in Europe in the last 10 years."On the Final:
"You do not win every game easily. We had to suffer against a very good Juventus."
"Buffon was his usual self: very good."
"At the beginning of the second half Juventus pressed us and drew level. That was our toughest moment. The first half was ours."
Catalans become the first team ever to twice win their domestic double as well as the Champions League
2008/09 and 2014/15 go down in history as the two greatest seasons in FC Barcelona history. After beating Juventus at the Olympiastadion on Saturday night, they have completed the treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, just like they did under Pep Guardiola six years ago.
Seven different teams had won similar trebles in the past, but Barça are the first to repeat the achievement of 2009, the year that they won 6-2 at the Santiago Bernabéu on the way to the Liga title, beat Athletic Bilbao at Mestalla to win the cup and then overcame Manchester United in Rome to become champions of Europe.
Of course, they went on to add the Spanish and European Super Cups and the Club World Cup, meaning an unprecedented six major titles in a calendar year.
Six years later, now under Luis Enrique, and they have done it again. They clinched the league title at the Vicente Calderón, home of the defending champions, with a game in hand. Athletic were once again the victims in the cup final, this time at the Camp Nou, and the Champions League was secured on Saturday night in the German capital against another side that was chasing a treble, Juventus of Turin.
No fewer than seven of the current Barça squad were involved in both treble-winning campaigns, namely Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Leo Messi, Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez.
Relive the emotion from Barça's historic night in Berlin
FC Barcelona lift their fifth Champions League title
The FC Barcelona fan mosaic at the Olympiastadion Berlin
With five wins in eight finals, the club is now matched with Liverpool and Bayern after a dream decade
One, two, three, four, FIVE!!! London, Paris, Rome, London again and now Berlin - FC Barcelona have beaten Juventus to win their fifth Champions league title (although the competition wasn’t known by that name when they won it for the first time). That means the Catalans now have one more than Ajax, and are now matched with Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the all-time table.
Five out of eight
So far, the 21st century has been wonderful for FCB, when four of the five titles were won (2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015). Until the turn of the century, the Catalans had only tasted success once, in 1992, when Koeman’s famous free kick at Wembley downed Sampdoria in extra time. Before that, Barça had lost two finals, to Benfica in Berne (1961) and to Steaua Bucharest in Seville (1986). The only other time Barça lost the final was to AC Milan in Athens (1994).
Club of the decade
In the 60-year history of the European Cup, only two teams now have more titles than Barça, Real Madrid (10) and AC Milan (7). But with four titles in the last decade, there is no doubt where the momentum lies. While Barça have won the trophy four times, no other side has done so more than once, with the other six titles shared by AC Milan, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
The Champions League also completes a historic treble after Barça won the domestic league and cup double as well. In fact, Barça have become the very first team to achieve that distinction not once, but twice! And if we count all of the other professional sports teams, FC Barcelona has now won an incredible 39 continental crowns.
After also appearing in París, Rome and London, the midfielder has played more finals than any other FC Barcelona player
After playing in Berlin, Andrés Iniesta has become the first Barça player to appear in four Champions League Finals. He is one of three players still in the squad that were around for the 2006 final in Paris, but neither Messi nor Xavi played at Saint Denis.
Iniesta was 22 in 2006, when he appeared in his first final. That was at Saint Denis, when he came on for Edmílson as the team was losing 1-0. The Catalans went on to win against Arsenal with goals from Eto’o and Belletti.
Difficulties in Rome
Iniesta’s presence in the Rome final was in doubt until the very last minute. He was not 100% fit but he started the game nevertheless and provided the assist for Eto’o to score the first goal. He was substituted in injury time by Pedro as he celebrated his second European title.
Barça beat Manchester United for the second time to win their fourth crown at the new Wembley, the same place where they had won their first in 1992, albeit in the old stadium. Iniesta started the game and played a key role in a performance that stunned the world.
The Argentina players face off once again in Saturday's Barça v Juventus in Berlin
Football brought them face to face for the first time when they were both just 17 years old, when Javier Mascherano played for River Plate and Tévez for Boca Juniors. Later they would face each other in the Superclásicos, as the derby between Argentina’s two most popular teams is known. Products of the best youth football systems in the country, their friendship was born in the Argentina national team. It is a friendship that goes back more than a decade.
One of the most memorable duels between the two occurred in May of 2004, when River and Boca faced off in the semi-finals of Copa Libertadores. Tevez’s Boca ended up qualifying for the final after winning a penalty shootout over Mascherano’s River.
The U-17 national team
Their friendship began when they were both part of the under-17 Argentina national team. Their relationship was forged between gruelling workouts, while sipping yerba mate and telling jokes. Later they would both form part of the under-20 team that competed in the South American championships disputed in Uruguay and, together, they also won the Gold medal of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. As the years passed they would add strength the Argentina national team where they’ve been teammates for a decade. They both played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as well as the 2007 Copa America.
Rivals in Argentina, the Brazilian First Division club Corinthians, controlled by the Iranian Kia Joorabchian — a close partner of Roman Abramovich — paid around 12.5 million euros for Mascherano and approximately 17 million euros for Tévez, with the promise that a year later they would be transferred to a European club. Tévez landed first and was followed by Mascherano six months later. Together they helped get Corinthians win the Brasileirao 2005. Those were also years for personal maturity — they both started families with whom they’ve shared many great moments outside the lines.
In 2006, the year of the World Cup, the two friends were sent to Europe where both the midfielder and the striker signed for West Ham in the Premier League. The English team was the last place where they would play together, following a negative experience for Mascherano, who was unable to curry favour with his coach and played only five games all season. It was undoubtedly the worst experience of his career.
Mascherano was able to survive the indifference of his coach, thanks to the support of his friend Tévez, along with that of Mascherano’s family. After six months he was shipped to Liverpool, where he’d get the playing time needed to be ready for the 2006 World Cup. Tévez, meanwhile, stayed with West Ham for six more months, where he helped lead the team in their struggle to avoid relegation, which they achieved on the final day of the season. Following the season Tévez was sent to Manchester United. The two friends had gone their separate ways, and they would only play together again for Argentina.
Mascherano became a key player for Liverpool under head coach Rafa Benítez, and despite not winning any titles with The Reds, the Argentinian ended up playing four and a half years at Anfield. Tévez, meanwhile, won six trophies with Manchester United, including the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup in just two seasons. That was the beginning of what would become a three-year rivalry between the two compatriots in the English Premier League.
Tévez then moved cross-town to Manchester City in 2010, while Mascherano made the jump to FC Barcelona. The relationship between the two was hampered by distance, travel, and because Tévez was cast aside during Alejandro Sabella’s stint as head coach of Argentina.
The 2015 UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Juventus will bring Mascherano and Tévez face to face once again, a reminder of some of the memorable duels back in Argentina between River Plate and Boca Juniors. Regardless of the outcome, when the final whistle signals the end of the game, their rivalry will turn back to friendship. They’ll have a word with each other out on the pitch and then refocus on a common goal — to win this summer’s 2015 Copa América in Chile.
Live updates in the build-up to FC Barcelona v Juventus at 8.45pm CET in Berlin
The Barça fans mosaic, the thoughts of a former Barça player, press conferences and much more
Neymar addes most important thing is to come out as champions' and admits he wants to kiss the trophy
Gerard Piqué and Neymar are clear about one thing: they want to come back from Berlin with the Club’s fifth Champions League trophy. “The moment is upon us. For us it is a unique opportunity to show the world of what we are capable of,” explained the Barça defender in the press conference ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
The Barça number 3 has admitted that having done the double assures “a great season” but gaining the treble would be an achievement “that would make history, a perfect year.” In that sense, he added that “we are close to perfection and we will try.”
Neymar also admitted his excitement at the thought of lifting up the Champions League: “I hope to live the dream that would be winning a Champions League trophy to give it a quick kiss.” The Brazilian explained that he has dreamt about “scoring a goal in the final, but the most important thing is to end up as champions.”
Both see Barça with the ball
About the kind of game that they will see, Piqué is crystal clear: “I think we will have the ball and more control than Juventus. They will want the ball as well. Juventus had the courage to come out and play at the Santiago Bernabéu. We will put pressure on them up front as we always do.”
Neither of the two wanted to accept the role of favourites: “It’s a final and anything can happen. Juventus are not in the final by accident. We know it will be a great game.” The Barça number 11 ended the press conference with a confession: “I am a big fan of Buffon. I used to use him when I was younger on the Play Station. I will be delighted if I manage to score past him.”
At the official Champions League dinner the president said the players are aware of the task ahead of them
The day before the Champions League final in Berlin between Juventus and FC Barcelona the traditional dinner organised by UEFA has taken place. The Barça party was led by President Bartomeu who maintained that there “was no clear favourite for the final. We have to think that the team is playing well and that they are motivated. They know what is expected but the game will be open.”
In comments to the press, the Barça president stated that the “players are confident and they are aware that Juventus are tough opposition. It’s no surprise that they have reached the final.” He continued: “The fans are euphoric, but that’s normal because the team is playing well.”
The plane touched down in the German capital at 1.15pm CET
FC Barcelona have arrived in Berlin, the site of Saturday's UEFA Champions League Final. The first team left the Ciutat Esportiva at 9.30am CET for Barcelona–El Prat Airport, where the team plane took off at 10.50am CET. Following the two-and-a-half-hour flight, the plane landed at Berlin Schönefeld Airport.
Accompanying the squad are Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu, Vice Presidents Javier Faus, Jordi Cardoner, Jordi Mestre and Manel Arroyo, and Directors Susana Monje, Jordi Moix, Jordi Monés, Toni Freixa, Ramon Pont, Joan Bladé, Javier Bordas, Silvio Elías, Dídac Lee, Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca, Ramon Cierco and Pau Vilanova.
The team will check in to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where they'll rest until Friday evening's training session, scheduled for 7.45pm CET. An hour before, at 6.45pm, head coach Luis Enrique and players Gerard Piqué and Neymar Jr will speak to the media.
Show us what you know about the Champions League Final
The FC Barcelona and Juventus stars are two of the most admired midfielders in world football and are about to face each other for what could be the last time in an official fixture
Xavi and Pirlo are two of the greatest midfielders not just of the current era, but of all time. Few players have ever been such masters of the ball, and so capable of producing passes out of nothing. Both at club and international level, these two players have helped to redefine the term ‘midfield general’.
Xavi will be leaving Barça after the Champions League Final to end a glittering career that has seen him win 24 titles in 17 seasons. And in his last game for FCB, he’ll be facing Pirlo, who he himself described this week as “a footballer in capital letters, spectacular … There is no player in the world right now that shares Pirlo’s talent. We played at all levels before finally meeting as professionals, when he was playing for Italy, Milan and now Juventus … I have always been a fan and admirer of Pirlo”.
Aged 35 and 36, respectively, Xavi and Pirlo have won everything there is to win between them. The Catalan has won eight Spanish Ligas and three Champions Leagues, while the Italian has won the Scudetto five times and the Champions League twice. They have also both won one World Cup each for Spain (2010) and Italy (2006). Xavi has only ever played for one club, Barça, while Pirlo made his Serie A debut for Brescia before going on to play for all of Inter Milan, Reggina, AC Milan and Juventus.
Xavi and Pirlo have faced each other on numerous occasions in the past, and here’s a recap of all those matches:
Five Italian sportswriters share their views on Saturday's big clash between FC Barcelona and Juventus
With the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Barcelona and Juventus less than 72 hours away, we at fcbarcelona.com asked five Italian sports journalists about the big match, set for Saturday 6 June at 8.45pm CET in Berlin, Germany. Filippo Ricci, Marc Foron, Riccardo Trevisani, Francesco and Andrea Pauli Caremani answered five questions posed by us, shedding light on how the match is being seen in Italy.
1). Which of the two teams do you think has played better in the competition thus far and which one is in better form coming into the final?
2). What might the keys be as far as tactics are concerned?
3). How would you rate the season that Luis Enrique's Barça are having?
4). Choose one protagonist from each team in the final.
5). Make a prediction
Filippo Maria Ricci (La Gazzetta dello Sport)
1) They are very evenly matched. Barça are one of the favourites and have lived up to expectations. Juventus started with two defeats in three games but have grown since the group stage, they are more confident, as they showed against Dortmund and most of all against the defending champions Madrid. The two teams are physically and mentally strong going into the final. The fact they are both chasing trebles raises the level of this final.
2) The way the three in the Barça midfield help the strikers. Juventus have a strong and quality midfield in Pirlo, Marchisio, Pogba and Vidal. Hard work from Luis Suárez but also Messi and Neymar is essential for the bianconeri not to create superiorities and get the full backs playing and most of all the duo of Tévez and Morata.
3) Extraordinary. The manager has transformed the team on a physical level, which is so important for sustaining the high pressure that typifies the Barça game. He has improved set pieces both in attack and defence, and most of all has discovered the plan Bs that they have been missing since 2012, and which was so needed to get Barça back after teams got the hang of dealing with what Guardiola did to revolutionise the team. What we’re seeing is tiki-taka 2.0.
4) I’ll go with the Argentinian duo of Messi and Tévez. Leo has the chance to get his hands on his fifth Ballon d’Or and has been showing fierce determination since January, along with to his incredible quality. He’s become unstoppable. He’ll make his mark on this final. The Apache went five years and almost 2,000 days without scoring in the Champions League, from 7 April 2009 to 16 September 2014. Once he broke that negative streak, he scored seven goals in Europe this season, and has kept the team alive in difficult moments. His hunger is one of Juventus' best weapons.
5) 3-1 to Barça.
Marc Foroni (Mediaset Itàlia)
1) Barça have had a better competition until now. They were amazing against PSG and Bayern. They have been much more competitive all season, but Juventus are going to Berlin in form. They have improved since the group stage. Juve in the knockout stages have been a much more confident team and they have nothing to lose in the final.
2) The tactical key for Juve is stopping Messi, Neymar and Suarez and trying to bother Iniesta and Rakitic to stop them holding onto the possession. Barça will have to be very careful with set pieces and not giving space to Morata and Tévez. They’re a very dangerous partnership.
3) I love the job that Luis Enrique has done: he has convinced a superstar squad to change their methods after tiki taka and has also moved Messi’s position, which has made him better and also brought out the best in Suárez and Neymar. He has put up with huge pressure to do an excellent job. I’m happy for him. He deserved much more at Roma.
4) Messi and Tévez are the stars of their teams and can make the difference at any moment. But I’d pick Iniesta and Vidal. They are what balance Barça and Juve: if they play their best then their teams play their best. As for encouragement, the most important squad members are Piqué and Buffon.
5) This is an unpredictable final. Barça are the favourites but Juve have a chance. Buffon, Tévez and Pirlo have all the personality and experience that you need at this level.
Riccardo Trevisani (Sky Sport Itàlia)
1) I think Barcelona are stronger. They have the strongest attacking threesome in football history. Juventus have organisation, malice and the advantage of being the weaker side. But Barcelona are technically superior.
2) Juventus suffered a lot in Madrid after Ronaldo scored. Real Madrid could have scored in the next 15 minutes. Neymar and Suárez will have chances and it will be hard for Juve to survive. But if it’s a tight game, Barça might find themselves up against a wall.
3) I don’t think we understood Luis Enrique in Italy. He is a loyal man and a good manager. At the start of the season, maybe he wanted to make his mark on the team, but it has really blossomed thanks to the legendary attack.
4) Messi: always and forever, and Tévez because he took Juve to Berlin.
5) 2-1 to Barça.
Andrea de Pauli (Corriere Dello Sport)
1) Both teams have improved as the competition progressed although they both started in very different ways. Barça were practically obliged to get as far as the final and they did that, winning their group and beating strong opponents in City, PSG and Bayern. Juve were an outsider and gained in confidence after finishing second in their group behind Atlético Madrid. They clearly don’t have the same class of individuals but after knocking out Madrid they have shown that they are capable of anything. Both teams are in great form.
2) No doubt Barça will try to dominate from the start, playing their usual game. I imagine that Juve will be quite aggressive when they haven’t got the ball, but they won’t only focus on vertical football. Their midfield is a good mix of combination players and those that can get through on goal. As some of the defenders aren’t in perfect shape, I guess they’ll play with four at the back, with a rhombus in the middle and two strikers, but watch out for the surprises that Allegri might have up his sleeve. He loves inventing new things.
3) I can only tip my hat at what Barça have done under Luis Enrique. It is no coincidence that they’ve won the league and cup double and are into the Champions League Final. They have improved exponentially and have found the right balance, as you can see from the few goals they’ve conceded and the amazing number they have scored. They have made the most of the trident up front thanks to the way they are all so committed to the cause, and the midfielders have worked especially hard. And they should also be admired for having a full strength squad throughout this final stretch of the season.
4) It’s difficult to pick out a single person from so many champions. I’d like this to be a final where a substitute shines, I’m sorry, with the luxury of being able to watch Xavi and Pirlo, because of what they have imprinted on football history, but I think it will be difficult to prevent Messi from taking centre stage.
5) I’m dreaming of a tight game, but an early Barça goal could settle it early on. I’ll go for a 2-1 win to Barça, but I warn you that I’m a hopeless gambler.
Francesco Caremani (author of the book 'Heysel, la verità d'1 stregge Anunciatta')
1) They’ve both had fantastic seasons and nobody expected Juventus and Barcelona to be so strong and competitive. They’ve grown along the way, both in their leagues and in the Champions League, they both have high morale, but Juventus won the Scudetto earlier and over the last few weeks have been able to distribute their physical and nervous energy better.
2) Juventus will play with a four-man defence, I reckon, and I think Marchisio or Pereyra might mark Messi to try to stop him running quick through on goal. Barcelona will play as we all know, they’ll go out strong in search of an early goal and will try to direct the play the way they prefer.
3) I’ve followed Luis Enrique since he became a coach and I consider him to be one of the best prepared young coaches in Europe, and he’s shown that with such an incredible season with Barcelona. When he was at Roma you could already tell what a fine coach he is and that he was good enough to manage a great team like Barcelona.
4) Messi for Barcelona, Buffon for Juventus.
5) 2-1, but I’m not saying to who...
It features the names of the two clubs, the date and the venue, Berlin's Olympiastadion
The first team will be donning a special shirt for the Champions League Final in Berlin on Saturday. Along with the names of two finalists, it also features the date and venue. The inscription, as is the norm for big games like this, will be appearing in the centre of the chest.
Via Twitter, the Brazilian remembers Paris 2006 and wishes his former club all the very best in Berlin
Ronaldinho is hoping that FC Barcelona can win their fifth Champions League on Saturday. In a conversation with the club on Twitter, he says “I hope FC Barcelona can win their fifth Champions League!”, and also remembers the thrill of winning the title in Paris in 2006: “I have fond memories of that final against Arsenal” he says. “Barça will always be in my heart!”
Here’s the full Twitter conversation between FC Barcelona and Ronaldinho:
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) June 3, 2015
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) June 3, 2015
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) June 3, 2015
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) June 3, 2015