Midfield key to Messi, Barca's dream of making history
06 June 2015, 18:14
Berlin-If Barcelona and their superstar Lionel Messi are to make Champions League history later on Saturday they have to win the midfield battle with their Juventus counterparts in the final according to Barca coach Luis Enrique.
Messi can become the first player to score in three Champions League finals after Barcelona's 2009 treble -- when they swept the league, Cup and Champions League titles -- and 2011 triumph.
Barcelona can also become the first side to pull off the treble twice, winning their domestic league and Cup as well as the Champions League.
Barca's star-studded attack of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez has amassed 120 goals between them this season and should give a Juventus defence, shorn of the experienced Giorgio Chiellini through injury, a thorough examination at Berlin's Olympic Stadium in front of an expected capacity crowd of just over 74,000.
Enrique cautioned his star attack will only thrive if the likes of veteran duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez -- like Messi both looking for their fourth Champions League title -- and Croatian Ivan Rakitic control the midfield.
But Juve's silky-skilled playmaker Andrea Pirlo -- like Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon a World Cup winner in 2006 at the same stadium -- France's Paul Pogba and Chile's Arturo Vidal ensure the Italians will have a powerful midfield presence.
"We are aware that our forwards capture all the attention. Firstly, because we have the best player in the world in Leo (Messi), but to be here we need to have a full team," said Enrique, who can round off his first season with the treble.
"It is not fair just to talk about Messi, he is the best, but the games are played as a team.
"I hope to see the best of my team. We have prepared as a team and we hope to see all the players at their best.
"Everyone is needed. The team has functioned marvellously, that is why we are playing for the treble, but we'll need to be strong in midfield.
"The world of football expects a great final between two teams that will go out to win. It would be nice to see an open and fun game."
Scorching daytime temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius are expected in Germany's capital to turn up the heat on the clash between Europe's top two teams.
Barcelona start as favourites, but many neutrals here hope Juventus will pull off a shock win to claim the first treble in their history.
"I predict Barcelona will win," said Germany's World Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew.
"Juve are a very strong and a persistent team, with a good record against Barca, but I've seen the Catalan giants twice recently and in the end I think they will come out on top."
Both sides have already captured their domestic league and cup titles and Buffon insists the Italian champions are not here just to make up the numbers.
The Italian champions have a wealth of experience and enjoyed success in the Champions Leaghue.
Pirlo won in 2003 and 2007 with AC Milan, Patrice Evra and Carlos Tevez with Manchester United in 2008 and Alvaro Morata last year with Real Madrid.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says it is up to the present Barca team to prove they deserve to be considered one of the greatest sides in the world.
"We have Leo, Luis, Neymar and Andres, we have one of the best teams in the history of the club," said the 28-year-old Pique, who like Messi, is seeking to win his third Champions League trophy.
"Now we have to prove we are one of the best teams in the world and we're ready to do that."
For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!