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Barcelona set sights on world domination after Champions League final barnstorming display

By Pete Jenson

Published 08/06/2015

Luis Suarez lifts the Champions League trophy
Luis Suarez lifts the Champions League trophy

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

But although the Barcelona 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 Barcelona as they moved into their post-Xavi era.

Barça have now won the tournament four times in nine years and "repeating the unrepeatable" was how Iniesta described the club's second treble.

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 for the foreseeable future 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 the 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's 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 already 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 never repeat but Luis Enrique has matched his predecessor.

Iniesta created the opening goal for Ivan Rakitic after Neymar, Jordi Alba and Messi had combined. Alvaro Morata equalised for Juventus but Luis Suarez scored a decisive second, which is his 25th of the season. When Neymar made it 3-1 that was 122 goals for Barcelona's front three this season.

Forbes rich list: World's most valuable football teams
#20 - Galatasaray worm their way in the top 20 most valuable football teams.
Value: £193 million
Forbes rich list: World's most valuable football teams #20 - Galatasaray worm their way in the top 20 most valuable football teams. Value: £193 million
Forbes rich list: World's most valuable football teams #19 - West Ham make their way into the top 20 most valuable club and no more. Value: £203 million
Forbes rich list: World's most valuable football teams #18 - Newcastle may be struggling on the pitch, but they are the 18th most valuable club in the world. Value: £229 million
Forbes rich list: World's most valuable football teams #17 - Napoli's rank as the 17th most valubale team will perhaps squash rumours that manager Benitez is moving. Value: £232 million
#16 - Atletico Madrid will be please with their result of 16th most valuable football team. Value: £286 million
#15 - F.C. Internazionale Milano (or Inter Milan) secure their place as the 15th most valuable football team in the world. Value - £288 million
#14 - Schalke 04 will be adding this ranking to their list of reasons to celebrate after a crucial win over Stuttgart in the run up to the UEFA Europa League qualification. Value: £374 million
#13 - Tottenham Hotspur players won't need any consoling after learning they are the 13th most valuable football team in the world. Value: £394 million
#12 - Paris Saint-Germain take 12th place in the list of most valuable football teams after welcoming Guingamp to the Parc des Princes. Value: £416 million
#11 - Borussia Dortmund can take solace after Manager Jurgen Klopp leaves, knowing that they are the 11th richest football team in the world. Value: £459 million
#10 - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will be ecstatic to hear his team, AC Milan are extremely profitable as 10th most valuable football team in the world. Value: £508million
#9 - Italian side Juventus take the ninth spot on the list of most valuable teams in the world. Value: £549 million
#8 - Liverpool's retiring captain Steven Gerrard will be glad to know that his team are the 8th most valuable team in the world. Value: £644 million
#7 - Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his sides second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match as his team tanks 7th place in the most valuable football teams in the world. Value: £859 million
#6 - Chelsea football club managed by Jose Mourinho have another reason to celebrate after claiming the title last Sunday, as they rank as the sixth most valuable football team in the world. Value: £898 million
#5 - Manchester City are the fifth most valuable team in the world and with reports showing that the average supporter has been a fan for 21 years, its easy to see why. Value: £905 million
#4 - Bayern Munich, now managed by Pep Guardiola, are fourth on the list of most valuable clubs. Value: £1.54 billion
#3 - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal before the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford. ManU are ranked as the third richest football team in the world and the most valuable Premier League club. Value: £2.03 billion
#2 - Barcelona came in a close second behind their La Liga rivals. Pictured: Barcelona's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League football match against Bayern Muenchen on May 6, 2015. Value: £2.07 billion
#1 - Real Madrid have made it to the Champions league semifinals four years in a row and generate more revenue that any other football team in the world. Value: £2.13 billion

Suarez said: "I never dreamed it would go this well. I'm always looking to achieve more. I never feel satisfied with what I have done and although I had scored in Paris, and against [Manchetser] City, and Real Madrid, and some people had said: 'okay it's done'. I wanted more. Now with the quality this team has I think we can win more next season."

Suarez has brought goals, assists and unity to Barcelona. It now remains to be seen whether that unity extends to Luis Enrique who must decide whether or not he wants to lead the club into the next campaign.

Current president Josep Maria Bartomeu will stand down this week so that the election process can begin. He will then stand for re-election and another former president Joan Laporta is also expected to become a candidate.

Luis Enrique must decide if he wants to make himself available as coach and with which presidential candidate he intends to align himself. "I never thought we would win all three trophies," he said after Saturday's game. And Gerard Pique was even more succinct when it came to talking about the first few weeks of 2015 when nobody would have bet on such success.

He said: "You can't get better than winning like that, after January, when it looked like everything was falling apart. After five brutal months and beating some of the best teams in the world, the champions of England, the champions of Italy, and Germany, the team showed it could suffer and still come out on top.

"We saw that more than ever when it went to 1-1 and we had a 10-15 minute spell when we looked exhausted. They attacked us but we coped defensively and up front with the talent these players have, they know how to take the chances."

Suarez' finish came after Buffon had denied him either side of the half-time break. He eluded to the months spent on the sidelines at the start of the season after his ban for biting Giorgio Cheillini at the World Cup.

"I'm grateful to Barcelona for trusting in me after everything that happened to me and to my team-mates who have been spectacular," he said.

There was emotion everywhere on Saturday night with Pirlo in tears, Paul Pogba inconsolable and Messi and Luis Enrique again embracing each other on the final whistle. But nothing topped Xavi with the trophy. He had replaced Iniesta on 77 minutes in what was his 767th game for the club and his 25th trophy.

Iniesta said: "I told him to be strong when he came on to replace me because there was so little time left and the game was so nearly won. The image of Xavi leaving with the Champions League is the most beautiful one for a player of his class."

Belfast Telegraph

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