Berlin, June 8 (IANS) Having won the second “treble” in their history, 2015 Champions League winners FC Barcelona have again set a benchmark in international football.
In beating Italian champions Juventus in this season’s final 3-1, Barcelona’s so-called attacking “trident” of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez has set an impressive combined goal-scoring record of 122 goals in the season.
Fans around the globe are again convinced that the world’s foremost club team has won the most important club trophy. But after the celebrations, the Spaniards will have some important homework to do. Maybe the most important of all, to secure the future of its coach Luis Enrique who to date has not yet confirmed that he will fulfill his current contract running until 2016.
After Enrique has been able to improve the team’s performance to a new level, it seems impossible that Enrique will leave. But the Barcelona coach was recently unhappy with the club’s support for him. So, it seems likely that the 45-year-old will wait until the presidential elections of the club within the next six to eight weeks.
After all, the club legend is the man that convinced Lionel Messi to change his game and leave the centre of Barcelona’s attacking game to provide space for Suarez and Neymar. Messi and Barcelona found their way back to happiness after they had to go through a crisis during the first half of the season.
For a while, Enrique and Messi had a difficult time and their relationship seemed to be unstable. The team was also struggling to perform to its potential. Barcelona fans expressed their doubts as nearly 70 percent felt Enrique was Barcelona’s problem.
But at the end of the season, Enrique has turned it into a wholesome team and it is primarily due to his efforts that Barcelona is not just about Messi anymore.
The Enrique-Messi partnership has ensured Barcelona’s fifth Champions League win (1992, 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2015). Enrique will most likely get some new assistants, should he choose to stay.
Midfielder Xavi Hernandez will leave the club for Qatari club Al Sadd after four Champions League titles and 151 Champions League games. The contract of defender Dani Alves will run out soon and he has refused to sign a new one so far.
“We’ ve played some outstanding football this season,” said Barcelona’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. The story behind the 23-year old German Under-21 keeper is a special one as well. Ter Stegen only played in Cup and Champions League games and Claudio Bravo (32) was between the posts for La Liga matches.
For the first time in Champions League history, a team from the same country has won the competition two years in a row. In 2014, the tournament was won by Barcelona’s traditional rivals Real Madrid.
The route of Barcelona to the European throne was not smooth as they had to beat teams like English powerhouses Manchester City and French club Paris St. Germain before beating German giants Bayern Munich.
In the final in Berlin, it was clear that Juventus, employing a 4-3-1-2 system, did not have the class to stop Barcelona, playing in a 4-3-3 formation.
Juventus’ defence had problems thwarting the attacking trio of Barcelona, who were without injured defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Noneheless, Juventus played exemplary football to reach the final. They were still a “typical” Italian team with emphasis more on defencive coordnation and solidity.
Juventus’ run to the final was down to a man not many fans believed in. Over 91 percent of its fans cast their doubts when the 47-year-old Livorno-born Massimiliano Allegri took over in 2014. Allegri, initially, had a tough time convincing the fans of his credibility.
He broadened his team’s tactical horizon from a 3-5-2 system to a slightly more offensive 4-3-1-2 system and organised the team commendably.
Still, Juventus is still not on the same level as Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich due to the absence of outstanding stars, who can turn the outcome of their match by their sheer outstanding technical ability.
The club will also have to undergo a major overhaul, replacing aging stalwarts goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (37) and midfielder Andrea Pirlo (36).