in , ,

Remembering the brilliant Barca side who beat Juve to win the 2015 Champions League

Spiralling debt and questionable decision-making has left Barcelona a shell of the side they once were, with the current crop a far cry from the immensely talented side that claimed the Champions League trophy six years ago, beating Juventus 3-1 in Berlin to clinch a fifth European title.

While perhaps not the cohesive unit that had romped to success under Pep Guardiola a few years earlier, the 2015 side had one of the greatest forward lines ever assembled, with the famed MSN – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – almost impossible to contain.

That proved to be the case in that showpiece triumph as the attacking trio ran riot, with both Suarez and Neymar firing in second-half goals to power Luis Enrique’s side to victory, after Alvaro Morata had cancelled out Ivan Rakitiic’s early opener for Barcelona.

 

Let’s take a look at the starting XI that played in what is La Blaugrana’s most recent Champions League success.

Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen

One of a handful of the starters still at the club, Marc-Andre ter Stegen remains a world-class goalkeeper and has now spent over seven years at the Nou Camp after his arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach.

The German international initially had to bide his time due to the presence of Claudio Bravo – with the two men sharing goalkeeping duties during his first seasons at the club – though Ter Stegen was given the nod for the entire Champions League campaign in 2014/15, despite not making a single La Liga appearance that season.

Embed from Getty Images

Ter Stegen’s involvement in the final was limited and he was unfortunate to see the ball fall to the feet of Morata for the Spaniard’s second-half goal, having initially made a fine stop to deny former Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.

Still just 29, he has been the club’s undisputed number one since Bravo’s departure in 2016, although at international level he continues to play second fiddle to the evergreen Manuel Neuer.

Right-back: Dani Alves

Barcelona are yet to truly fill the void left by Dani Alves’ departure five seasons ago, with the right-back having reigned supreme as the best in his position for over a decade.

A relentless presence both in attack and defence, the former Sevilla man was arguably the perfect full-back in his pomp and enjoyed eight trophy-laden seasons in Catalonia, including winning three European honours.

In his second and last Champions League final with the club – having missed the 2009 edition due to suspension – Alves was at the centre of controversy after appearing to wrestle Paul Pogba to the ground inside the penalty area, only for Luis Suarez to score at the opposite end just moments later with the spot-kick not given.

Embed from Getty Images

Ironically, Alves signed for Juventus a year later – playing in a Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in 2017 – before enjoying a two-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 39-year-old is now the most decorated player of all-time having won 43 trophies, although is currently without a club after leaving Sao Paulo in the summer.

Centre-back: Gerard Pique

La Masia graduate Gerard Pique remains a key player for the club in the present day, having spent the last 13 years in Catalonia at the heart of the backline, after previously spending four seasons at Manchester United.

Having failed to really make an impact at Old Trafford, the Spaniard returned to his former home in 2008 and quickly cemented his place in Guardiola’s starting XI, going on to feature against the Red Devils a year on from his exit in the 2009 Champions League final, before returning to haunt his former side again at Wembley in 2011.

The success in 2015 concluded a remarkable treble-winning season for Luis Enrique’s men, with Pique one of a handful of Barca players to have completed the treble twice, having also done so in 2008/09.

Centre-back: Javier Mascherano

Pique’s partner for much of his time at the Nou Camp was former Liverpool man Javier Mascherano, with the Argentine developing into a top-class operator at centre-back, having previously featured as a defensive midfielder during his time at Anfield.

Having made the switch to Catalonia in 2010 after four years in England – including a solitary season at West Ham United – he went on to spend eight hugely successful years with the La Liga side, before departing for Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January 2018.

Embed from Getty Images

Mascherano later called time on his stellar career following a brief spell at Estudiantes, retiring having made 147 appearances for his country since his senior debut – notably winning Olympic Gold in both 2004 and 2008.

Left-back: Jordi Alba

Another player still at the club, Jordi Alba has been Barcelona’s starting left-back for just under a decade, having joined the club from Valencia following his performances for Spain at Euro 2012, scoring in the 4-0 thrashing of Italy in the final.

Now 32, the full-back has lost little of his blistering pace and even enjoyed career-best figures last term, scoring five goals and registering 13 assists in all competitions as Ronald Koeman’s turbulent debut season ended with Copa del Rey success.

Midfield: Ivan Rakitic

Barca took just four minutes to open the scoring in Berlin, with Ivan Rakitic rounding off an excellent team move to slot home past Gianluigi Buffon, with the goal capping a fine debut season for the Croatian at his new club.

The hard-working midfielder had spent time at Basel and Schalke before joining the Catalan giants from Sevilla, making 310 appearances for the club across six seasons before returning to Seville.

Embed from Getty Images

The 33-year-old returned to haunt his former club last season by scoring in a 2-0 first-leg win in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, though it was Barcelona who progressed following a dramatic second-leg turnaround.

Midfield: Sergio Busquets

A lot has changed in the six years since the club’s last Champions League success, but Sergio Busquets’ importance to the side has remained, with the World Cup winner still the Catalan’s midfield metronome.

With both Xavi and Andres Iniesta coming towards the end in 2015, Busquets emerged as a more central figure in the side, adapting to a change of style which moved away from the midfield control of the Guardiola era and was altered to getting the best out of their fearsome forward line.

Now 33, the Spaniard remains vital for both club and country – linking up with Luis Enrique again with the national team – notably starring over the summer at Euro 2020, while also helping La Roja reach the recent Nations League final, where they were narrowly defeated by France.

Midfield: Andres Iniesta

Completing the midfield in Berlin – and also captaining the side on the day – was Andres Iniesta, with the mesmerising Spaniard perhaps the greatest midfielder of his generation and one of the finest products of the club’s famed La Masia academy.

He showcased his talent just minutes into the clash with Juventus, receiving the ball from Neymar inside the box and expertly picking out teammate Rakitic, who duly slotted home to give his side an early lead.

Embed from Getty Images

In 16 years in the Barcelona first-team – having made his debut in 2002 – the playmaker made 674 appearances for the club, winning nine La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies in that time, while also playing a key part of the Spain side that won three successive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.

The 37-year-old departed in 2018 to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe, although has shown no signs that he’s nearing the end after he recently signed a new two-year deal with the club.

Right-wing: Lionel Messi

A Barcelona side without Lionel Messi seemed unthinkable six years ago, with the Argentine genius thriving as part of a remarkable forward line, having scored 58 goals in 57 games in all competitions leading up to the 2015 final.

The 34-year-old departed the club this summer to sign for Ligue 1 superpower Paris Saint-Germain, having been unable to sign a new deal at the Nou Camp due to the club’s current financial crisis.

While it would appear that a departure was not what the forward had wanted, he had seemingly angled for a move last summer with concerns over the club’s direction and transfer approach, having seen his beloved club begin to look less and less like Champions League contenders.

Embed from Getty Images

In the final years of his time in Catalonia, Messi helped to paper over the widening cracks that were emerging on and off the pitch and came close to dragging them to a European final again in 2019, only to be denied by that stunning Liverpool fightback at Anfield.

A marvellous era has since come to an end, although he walks away from Barcelona with a record 672 goals to his name and a comprehensive list of honours, with there a high chance of adding to his silverware collection at the Parc des Princes in the coming years.

Left-wing: Neymar

Messi has joined his friend and former teammate Neymar in Paris, with the two having struck up a bond after a hugely successful four-year stint together at the Nou Camp, following the Brazilian’s move from Santos in 2013.

After a promising first campaign with his new club, the skilful winger truly sparked into life in the 2014/15 season, netting 39 goals and recording seven assists throughout the season, while finishing as the joint-top scorer in the Champions League with ten goals, alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Embed from Getty Images

He reached that tally with a 97th-minute goal in the showpiece to rubber-stamp the victory, rounding off a blistering counter-attack with a composed finish after unselfish play from teammate Pedro.

After 105 goals in 186 games for the club, he made the surprise decision to move to France in 2017, potentially in order to step out of Messi’s shadow in the hope of greater individual acclaim.

Forward: Luis Suarez

Rounding off the starting XI and that devastating attacking trio is Luis Suarez, with the Uruguayan enjoying a remarkable debut campaign at the Nou Camp, finishing the season with 25 goals and 21 assists in all competitions, taking MSN’s combined tally for that season to 122 goals.

What’s even more impressive is that the striker managed that haul despite missing the first few months of the season through suspension, having disgraced himself at the World Cup the previous summer after appearing to bite Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

The Champions League final served as something of a redemption for the Liverpool man, as he reacted quickest to pounce on an initial save from Buffon to give his side the lead, just moments after the Italian side had seen appeals for a penalty waved away.

Embed from Getty Images

His time at the club came to something of an acrimonious end last year, however, as he was unceremoniously moved on, only for the 34-year-old to exact revenge by helping fire new side Atletico Madrid to the title, with his 21 league goals proving decisive.

Substitutes

Xavi

One of the many subplots on the night was the final send-off of long-serving midfielder Xavi, with the Spaniard’s last act in a Barcelona shirt seeing him hold the trophy aloft, having been brought on for long time ally Iniesta in the 78th minute.

Embed from Getty Images

The veteran spent four years at Qatari side Al-Sadd as a player, before taking on the manager’s job in 2019 and has since guided them to the league title last season.

The 41-year-old has, however, been heavily linked with a return to the Nou Camp as a replacement for Ronald Koeman, whose future continues to look untenable.

Jeremy Mathieu

A forgotten name among this list of world-class talent, the Frenchman spent six years at fellow La Liga side Valencia before joining Barca in 2014, capping his debut campaign at the club by making a stoppage-time appearance in place of goalscorer Rakitic in the final.

He spent three years with the club before departing for Sporting CP in 2017, where the 37-year-old remained until retiring last year.

Pedro

Pedro spent just over a minute on the pitch in the showpiece, but made the most of his brief cameo after playing in Neymar for Barcelona’s final clincher.

He scored the winner in the 5-4 win over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup at the start of the following season, before signing for Chelsea just a days later after a glorious seven-year spell in the Barcelona first-team.

After winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and Europa League at Stamford Bridge, the winger moved to Roma in 2020, before making a highly controversial switch to Lazio over the summer – becoming the first player to move directly between the two clubs since 1985.

Read – Remembering the iconic young Ajax side that beat AC Milan to secure UCL glory

Read Also – Iconic: Lionel Messi’s five greatest Barcelona goals

Subscribe to our social channels:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments