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KINGS OF EUROPE

They came in pursuit of what Gerard Piqué called “perfection” and, once again, they left the distinct sense this is the team that takes football to its highest levels. Lionel Messi and his exquisitely gifted team-mates put on a masterclass at times. They did not seem to care they were facing reputedly the best defence in the competition and it was a thrilling way to complete the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and now the trophy that means more to this institution than anything else.

It was not quite perfection, perhaps, bearing in mind that spell in the second half when Álvaro Morata equalised and suddenly, for the first time, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba were emboldened to think they could take control in midfield. That, however, was only a small chunk out of the night. Juventus simply could not cope otherwise with the most devastating forward line on the planet and, on the balance of play, Barça should really have made it a more stress-free occasion before Neymar soothed any lingering nerves with his stoppage-time goal.

That was the final kick of the night but the more important goal came off Suárez’s right boot on 68 minutes, following in after Messi’s shot had come back off Gianluigi Buffon and firing the rebound high into the net. That was Buffon’s one mistake of a night when there were other moments to remind us of his enduring brilliance. Yet there was no way his team-mates could leave him so exposed so many times and expect to get away with it. Either Juventus chose a bad night to forget their defensive structure or Messi et al were just too piercingly brilliant. Or maybe a bit of both. Either way, it was remarkable to see how many times a Juventus side with 27 clean sheets this season looked so vulnerable and overrun.

Source:www.theguardian.co.uk