Enrique : Barca will defend their Champions League title

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique says Barcelona aim to become the first team to defend the Champions League title as the head coach considers his future despite steering them to an historic treble.

Luis Suarez and Neymar scored second-half goals to give Barcelona a 3-1 Champions League final victory over Juventus on Saturday as the Spaniards became the first team to twice win the European treble.

Enrique capped his first season as Barcelona’s head coach by matching Pep Guardiola’s feat from the 2008/09 season when the Catalans captured the European, Spanish league and cup titles.

An early goal by Barca’s Ivan Rakitic was cancelled out when Juventus’ ex-Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata equalised on 55 minutes.

But Suarez put the game beyond the Italian champions with a 68th minute strike off a rebound at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium before Neymar added the third with the last kick of the game in the 97th minute.

Barcelona have now won five European titles, four of which came in the last decade after their 2006, 2009 and 2011 triumphs.

Enrique says their hunger for silverware is insatiable and they want to make more history by becoming the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles.

“This is our 60th match (this season) with six defeats and four draws,” said the 45-year-old.

“Those figures show that this has been one of Barcelona’s best campaigns.

“In the last ten years, this has been the most successful club in Europe.

“These players have shown hunger for victories and they’ve shown they enjoy it so much, we have to nourish them with more titles.”

Enrique is yet to commit to a second season ahead of the club’s presidential elections as he has had a tense relationship with current incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“I want to celebrate the win, but the time will come when decisions must be made,” said Enrique.

“It’s been a difficult year with lots of transition, but I have to thank all those who have trusted me to lead Barcelona.”

Juventus suffered the unwanted fate of becoming the first team to lose six European Cup finals, 30 years after winning the trophy for the first time which was overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium disaster.

On the streets of Barcelona, where you could have heard a pin drop during the final, thousands of ecstatic fans dressed in their team colours of blue and red celebrated with cheers, chants and fire crackers.

“It’s a dream, I still can’t believe it!” said Eduard Ocana, a 23-year-old student, in the Catalan capital, as cries of “champions, champions!” echoed around the famous party street of Las Ramblas.

– Suarez triumph –
For Suarez it was a triumphant end to a first season with the Spanish champions after his ignominious biting ban at the World Cup.

“It’s incredible, it’s something unique,” he said.

“The best thing about this side is the spirit and the fact we’ve been united since the start of the season.”

In 2009 Barcelona joined the elite club of treble winners that include Celtic, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Now, they are the first to have done that twice.

Despite brief moments of magic, Lionel Messi failed to become the first player to score in three Champions League finals as he along with captain Andres Iniesta and Barca icon Xavi Hernandez — in his final match for the club — equalled Dutch star Clarence Seedorf’s tally of four winners’ medals.

Barcelona showed early nerves with two uncustomary mistakes in defence straight from kick-off before Rakitic gave the Catalan giants the lead with just four minutes gone.

Neymar fed Iniesta from the left wing and the Spain international squared for Rakitic to drill home from close range, past Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

Juve came back into the game midway through the first half, but Suarez forced Buffon, who failed to claim a winners’ medal at the 12th attempt, into another save as it finished 1-0 at the break.

Juve got the equaliser they had threatened when defender Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross found Carlos Tevez, whose shot was parried by Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, only for Morata to rifle home the loose ball on 55 minutes.

It was his first goal against Barcelona despite four years at the Bernabeu having left Madrid last year.

The goal breathed life back into Juve’s ambitions, but it was a touch of Messi magic which led to the decisive goal.

The Argentina international attacked the Juve defence with a mazy run and although Buffon blocked his shot, Suarez fired home the rebound on 68 minutes.

“Unfortunately when you play against great players, you think you have things under control, then they can turn the game, as happen tonight,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“We’re sorry to have missed our chance, but I can’t criticise the team.”

Xavi came on for his final game in the Barca shirt in the dying stages as he made history with a record 151st Champions League appearance before joining Qatari side Al Sadd next season.

“To leave this way is amazing,” said the Spain international, who lost his place in the starting side to Rakitic this season.

The scene was set for Neymar to cap his first Champions League final with Barcelona’s third just before the final whistle.

Juventus hailed the achievement of Allegri in getting the team to the final during his first season in charge, and beating 2014 winners Real M

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