Barcelona are once again champions of Europe, after knocking off Juventus, 3-1, in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday. Goals scored by Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar were enough to complete the Blaugrana‘s second treble-winning season in seven years.
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In the end, it was the unstoppable force — Barcelona’s all-time great attacking
trio unit — that was too much for the immovable object — Juventus’ staunch, disciplined defense. Barca now have their fifth European title, halfway to the total of Spanish rivals Real Madrid.
Barca drew first blood in the 4th minute. Neymar made a jinking run down the left and cut back inside, where he threaded a through ball into the penalty area for the onrushing Iniesta, who took a touch before squaring to Rakitic near the penalty spot. Rakitic struck left-footed, first-time and beat the outstretched Gianluigi Buffon.
Buffon came up huge to keep the deficit at one just nine minutes later. Lionel Messi played Suarez down the right wing, where the Uruguayan cut his cross back for Dani Alves near the top of the penalty area. Alves’ first-time shot looked destined for the back of the neat, but Buffon made the acrobatic stop at his near post.
Suarez came very close to doubling the lead not one, but twice in the 40th minute. His first attempt, a right-footed effort dragged just wide of the far post from a difficult angle, was quickly succeeded by a second attempt at the end of a Juve giveaway inside their defensive third. The ball fell to Suarez, whose first-time curler was palmed high into the air by Buffon.
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Claudio Marchisio registered Juve’s first shot on target, in the 45th minute. A rare counter-attacking opportunity for Juve provided the Italian midfielder with a bit of time and space just outside Barca’s penalty area, where he unleashed a powerful, right-footed shot, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen got two hands and his body behind the chest-high shot and made the save with ease.
Quickly countering five-versus three just after halftime, Barca continued to chase the now-elusive second goal, as Messi’s through ball set up Suarez for a toe-poke shot from beyond the edge of the six-yard box, but Buffon had his near post covered and made the save.
In the 55th minute, Barca were made to pay for failing time and again to grab that second goal and put the game away. Marchisio began the move for Juve’s equalizer with a brilliant backheel to play Stephan Lichtsteiner into space down the right. The Swiss full back crossed for Arturo Vidal near the penalty spot, where he let the ball run on and fired low with his left foot, but Ter Stegen was quick to get down and make the save, though the rebound spilled toward his far post. Alvaro Morata arrived on the scene late and cleaned up the mess, slotting home from close range to level the game at 1-1.
Juve, who had settled into and subsequently continued a purple patch of possession and chances created, nearly took the lead when a quick counter attack resulted with Carlos Tevez all alone at the top of the penalty area, where the Argentine fired just over the bar in the 63rd minute. Paul Pogba fired a well-hit shot of his own straight into the clutches of Ter Stegen a minute later.
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Almost completely against the run of play at this point, Barcelona jumped back into the lead, thanks to Buffon’s first blunder of the game, overshadowing his heroic performance through the game’s opening 67 minutes. Messi weaved his way through the Juve defense, creating space for a perhaps difficult-to-see shot through traffic, which Buffon did well to keep out, but parried the ball into the path of Suarez, who cleaned up at the back post and reclaimed the lead.
Barca’s lead was momentarily doubled three minutes later, when Neymar headed home Jordi Alba’s cross into the box, but the additional assistant referee on the endline whistled Neymar for handball and the goal was disallowed, rightly so.
Juve’s best chance for yet another equalizer came in the 88th minute, when Marchisio found ample space 25 yards from goal and ripped a low, bouncing shot that Ter Stegen needed every last inch of his 6-foot-2 frame in order to push the ball wide of his left-hand post.
With the referee a matter of seconds from blowing the full-time whistle, Neymar added the emphatic exclamation point for Barca, capping off a counter attack with a low, placed finish past Buffon.
Juventus: Buffon, Evra (Coman 89′), Bonucci, Barzagli, Lichtsteiner, Pirlo, Marchisio, Pogba, Vidal (Pereyra 79′), Morata (Llorente 85′), Tevez
Goals: Morata (55′)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Alves, Busquets, Rakitic (Mathieu 90+1′), Iniesta (Xavi 78′), Neymar, Suarez (Pedro 90+6′), Messi
Goals: Rakitic (4′), Suarez (68′), Neymar (90+7′)