FC Barcelona has been a powerhouse for over a decade in European club soccer. They battle Real Madrid domestically in the Spanish La Liga, and they take on other European top clubs in the Champions League. But this year was even more special than usual as the Catalans became the first club to win a second treble after winning the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey this season.
The treble consists of winning the domestic league, the domestic cup and the Champions League all in one season. Barcelona first treble came back in 2009, and now again this year. The list of clubs that has managed to win a treble is short and consists of some of the biggest clubs in European club soccer history. Only four clubs has managed to pull off a treble-winning season in the Champions League era. Manchester United did it back in 1999, Inter Milan in 2010, and Bayern Munich in 2013.
First-season manager Luis Enrique, who spent eight seasons as a player for Barca, couldn’t have asked for a better start to his managerial career at Camp Nou. Despite all the success, there are still some doubts that Enrique will be the manager next season as there’s elections coming up at the club and if there’s a new president elected, he might want to bring in someone else to lead the team.
Barcelona played a total of 60 games in all competitions this season. They won a staggering 50(!) of those, drawing four and losing only six. In the league Barca went 30-4-4, but got stiff competition by Real Madrid all season long. Barca came out on top and won La Liga on 94 points, two points ahead of Real Madrid.
The teams split the El Clasico games this season with Real winning at home 3-1 in October and Barcelona winning 2-1 at Camp Nou in March. Lionel Messi scored 43 league goals, and was only bested by Cristiano Ronaldo who had 48. Neymar was third in the La Liga scoring race with 22 and the Brazilian star had a great second season with Barca.
The offensive trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, who had 16 league goals, is absolute world-class and they strike fear in defenders across Europe. The trio scored 81 out of Barca’s 110 league goals this season.
In the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), Barca went undefeated, winning nine straight games and beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in the final after two goals by Messi and one by Neymar.
Barca’s Champions League campaign started off with a 1-0 win at home over APOEL Nicosia before losing 3-2 on the road against Paris Saint-Germain. After the loss to PSG, Barcelona went on to win the remaining four group-stage games and winning Group F on 15 points, two ahead of PSG.
Manchester City was drawn as the opponent in the Round of 16, but Barca showed that despite all the oil-money that’s been pumped into City, they are still not ready to compete with the top clubs in Europe. The Catalans went through 3-1 on aggregate after two wins, 2-1 at City of Manchester Stadium and 1-0 at home. Former Liverpool-man Suarez scored both goals in the first leg.
Suarez scored 7 goals in the Champions League, and Neymar and Messi each scored 10, tying for the Golden Boot with Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the quarterfinals, they went up against PSG again. After a dominating 3-1 at Parc des Princes with Suarez scoring another double, they followed that up with a 2-0 win at home where it was Neymar’s turn to score twice.
In the semifinals they went up against one of the pre-tournament favorites in Bayern Munich. The German side also had a phenomenal league campaign, winning the Bundesliga with a 10-point margin and a +62 goal difference. They had played well during the Champions League group stage, winning Group E on 15 points, seven ahead of Manchester City. They had two incredible games when Bayern displayed just how lethal they can be, thrashing AS Roma 7-1 in Rome, and beating Shakhtar Donetsk 7-0 at home at the Allianz Arena.
Barca showed their class in the first leg, winning 3-0 and Messi scoring twice to keep up the impressive scoring record of the offensive trio. Bayern did their best in the return leg in Germany, and won the game 3-2 but Barca went through 5-3 on aggregate.
In the final they went up against Italian champions Juventus, who had beaten Real Madrid in the semifinals. Barca got a perfect start of the game with ivan Rakitic scoring in the 4th minute. The Catalans had a vast majority of the ball possession and created a lot of chances. But it was only 1-0 at halftime, and former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata tied the game for Juventus in the 55th minute and breathed new life into the Juventus fans and players.
Suarez gave Barca a 2-1 lead in the 68 minute after he pounced on a rebound after a Messi shot. In stoppage time, Neymar finished the scoring and secured the treble for Barcelona.
There’s no doubt that Messi, Neymar and Suarez is the key for Barcelona, but the other players deserves a lot of credit as well. Xavi made his last appearance in a Barca jersey, as the 34-year-old midfielder will leave the club after 17 season in the first team. Winning a historic treble was a perfect ending for the legend who will move to the Middle East and Al Sadd SC in Qatar.
This year’s Champions League title was Barcelona’s fourth in the past 10 seasons, and they will surely be the favorites once more next season.