Thursday 22 March 2018

Iniesta insists Catalans can repeat season of domination

Juventus 1 Barcelona 3

Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, centre, holds the trophy after the Champions League final
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, centre, holds the trophy after the Champions League final
Neymar scores Barcelona's third goal
Barcelona's Luis Suarez goes down after a challenge with Stephan Lichtsteiner
Morata grabs a goal back for Juventus
Neymar is chased by Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and Stephan Lichtsteiner
Xavi lifts the Champions League trophy in his last game for Barcelona
The Uruguayan striker turns the ball home
Suarez and his children pose with the trophy

Pete Jenson

Xavi Hernandez had the match ball stuffed up his shirt as he lifted the European Cup on Saturday night - the playmaker and his favourite possession inseparable to the end.

But while the Barcelona club captain was making his last appearance on Europe's main stage, his successor to the armband, Andres Iniesta, was declaring that the Champions League would go on belonging to the club post-Xavi.

Barca have now won the tournament four times in nine years. The 31-year-old Spain international, who wore the armband from kick-off in Berlin, called on the side to go on dominating European football, saying: "Six years ago, we thought to win the treble again was unrepeatable, but we have done it."

The architect of the first goal in the Olympiastadion referred to Barcelona's chance to emulate the achievement of the 2008-'09 season when the team made it six out of six by winning the Spanish and European Super Cups and the World Club Cup.

He added: "We still have targets. We want to win the six titles now and win the same titles next year to try to make our club even greater. Now is the time to enjoy our fifth European Cup."


Barcelona get to keep the trophy they lifted in Berlin by virtue of having won it five times and it was sat proudly on a chair next to Lionel Messi at the team's hotel breakfast yesterday before they brought it back to Catalonia and to the Nou Camp last night.

Attention has already turned to next season, with Seville's attacking right-back Aleix Vidal poised to join as Dani Alves' long-term replacement. Barcelona's transfer ban does not prevent them from signing him, but they will not be able to register him before January.

Iniesta has set out the aims for next season. When Barcelona swept the board clean in their first season under Pep Guardiola, it did feel like a feat they would ever repeat, but Luis Enrique has matched that achievement.

Iniesta created the fourth-minute opener for Ivan Rakitic after Neymar, Jordi Alba and Messi had combined. Alvaro Morata equalised for Juventus 10 minutes after half-time, but Luis Suarez scored a decisive second on 68 minutes. When Neymar made it 3-1 deep in injury time, that was 122 goals for Barcelona's front three this season.

Luis Enrique must now decide if he wants to lead the team into the next campaign. "I never thought we would win all three trophies," he said after Saturday's game. (© Independent News Service)

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