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

By Pete Jenson

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.

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."

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