Luis Enrique’s Barcelona add momentum to automatic in Berlin

Juventus 1 Barcelona 3

Rakitic 4 Morata 55 Suarez 68 Neymar 90 +7

This fantastic final in Berlin was a fierce contest that eventually provided four fine goals in open play.

No penalties, no free-kick, not even a big header from a corner.

Barcelona scored an early goal and dominated, as I hoped they would.

But they couldn’t kill off Juventus, who battled with magnificent tactical know-how and determination and scored a superb equaliser.

There was an abundance of dramatic moments but it was really the goals that gave us the Wow! moments that we will remember.

Definitely a classic Champions League Final.

Juventus started in high gear and pressed forward fiercely for three minutes, forcing errors.

But then Barcelona scored with their first attack in the fourth minute.

Gaining composed possession at last, Barcelona moved from left to right and then back to the right, from where Messi hit a big crossfield into the run of left back Jordi Alba, whose lay-off went square into Iniesta’s run, and then a sublime four-yard pass into space set up Rakitic for his left foot shot past Buffon.

WHAT A GOAL! Fabulous football, as good as it gets.

Most of Iniesta’s best passes are scalpel strokes. The sign on his door should say Dr Andres Iniesta : Surgical Assists.

There was a lot of automatic in that goal, and a lot of Guardiola too.

That early hammer blow might have finished lesser opponents but Juventus showed the mettle of champions.

Just when I was thinking, “How is it only 1-0?” Morata fired a left-foot shot just wide and Marchisio’s rocket fizzed over the crossbar, Rakitic covered at right back after Dani Alves went AWOL, and when Pogba was brought down on the edge of the box there was no free-kick. Suarez poked a shot a foot wide of the post, then, a minute later, forced Buffon to save again. When Pogba scythed Messi down he was booked. And keeper ter Stegen slapped down a Marchisio shot that flew straight at him.

But an exciting first half ended with the score still 1-0 to Barcelona.

At half-time the family came back from Vijay’s restaurant and Caroline, home for one night only, said, “Have we got a feast for you! The owner of the restaurant said you’re a lucky man to get to watch the football and eat curry.”

Barcelona cranked up the tempo right from the kick-off, and when Barcelona broke away after a Juventus corner they had five against three but Buffon was able to stop Suarez’s shot at the expense of a corner.

Overall it, seemed as if Suarez and Neymar were having a very frustrating night, mainly because the defending by Juventus was so tenacious and professional.

Then as Juventus pressed a Dani Alves throw deep in the Barcelona half, the frustrated right back, with no options, lashed the ball diagonally across the pitch towards Neymar but Lichtsteiner won it and passed forward to Marchisio, whose cutely inventive backheel found Lichtsteiner’s overlap.

When his cutback rolled behind Tevez, the little man spun away from Pique and fired a shot that ter Stegen couldn’t hold and Morata tapped in from six yards.

So, after 55 minutes of this pulsating final, it was 1-1.

The anticipation of Suarez for the game’s third goal was the entirely natural movement of a super-motivated competitor at a crucial moment in this drama.

He made a run inside Evra as Messi dribbled across on his left foot, and when the Uruguayan saw his mate about to shoot, Suarez checked behind the shoulder of Evra, his marker, and was waiting, perfectly positioned, when Buffon saved Messi’s fierce low shot, to bang home the half-volley for 2-1.

By moving at exactly the right time Suarez made that goal look very simple.

The fact that Barcelona had so many attacks and goal attempts rather obscures the fact that 64 long minutes elapsed between their first goal and their second.

However, and maybe this is the more revealing stat, the score was only level at 1-1 for 13 minutes.

When Barcelona scored early, Juventus kept battling until they equalised. After the Morata goal, Barcelona also fought back immediately with terrific skill, power and momentum.

Injuries and substitutions took the game into five minutes of stoppage time that became seven and the last kick of the match came when the tireless Suarez found Neymar, who rifled a low left-foot shot across Buffon for 3-1.

Juventus, who gave a very good account of themselves, had been beaten by the best team in the world.

The Sky pundits were good on Saturday.

Jamie Carragher admitted that he never thought Suarez would stay and play for Liverpool in the Champions league because he thinks that Suarez’s ability level is winning the Champions League, not just playing in the competition. Exactly!

On Suarez, Jamie Redknapp said, “He wants to stretch the play- that’s what he gives them. He doesn’t want the ball to feet.”

Graeme Souness added, “He also pins centrehalves. He’ll also back into centrehalves, he’s strong enough and brave enough to do that. Previous Barcelona teams had nobody running in behind without the ball. They’ve now got that with Rakitic and him – and it’s made them a very different proposition.”

Three clubs have now won five European Cups: Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

AC Milan have seven, Real Madrid ten.

So Barcelona’s next target is to retain the Champions League. That has never been done.

This is the first time that two teams from the same league have won it consecutively.


Juventus: Buffon, Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Evra, Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Vidal, Tevez, Morata.

Subs: Storari, Ogbonna, Coman, Llorente, Padoin, Sturaro, Pereyra.

Barcelona: ter Stegen, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez Neymar.

Subs: Bravo, Xavi, Pedro, Rafinha, Bartra, Adriano, Mathieu.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)