No team has ever retained the Champions League and surely no side has ever had a better chance of doing so than Barcelona this season.
The home side beat Roma 6-1 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night with a brace from both Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi and goals from Gerard Pique and Adriano.
The deadly Suarez-Messi-Neymar forward line must surely now stand together on FIFA’s Ballon d’Or Podium in January. They have scored 121 goals between them in this calendar year.
To put that into some perspective, Real Madrid have scored 106 goals in the same period and opponents Roma have only managed 72.
The side currently placed third in Italy, just three points off the top, had no chance. And as the football flowed and the goals kept coming the players were at times laughing on the pitch, taking the old cliché about playing with a smile on their faces to a new level.
The laughter was not to mock Roma either, they scored with the last kick of the game from Edin Dzeko and he also missed a second half penalty. They didn’t play particularly badly.
It was born more of the embarrassment of being so superior and scoring with such ease just as they had done at the weekend against Real Madrid.
Barcelona had booked their place in the knockout stage before kick off following BATE’s draw with Bayer Leverkusen so the game lacked importance for them but it didn’t show and it will be a long time before the 71,433 present will forget the quality of the performance.
Messi made his first start following two month injury lay-off and he almost returned with a goal after just three minutes but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny acrobatically tipped his shot from the edge of the area over the bar.
He then had the ball in the net on six minutes but the flag had gone up for off-side. And had those two chances counted he would have had his hat-trick on nine minutes if he had finished from Sergi Busquets’ pass of the night, along the ground and right through the middle of Roma’s defence.
With the score still miraculously at 0-0 Roma had their first chance on 12 minutes but Dzeko headed Radja Nainggolan’s looping pass over Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s bar from the edge of the six-yard box.
It was an important opportunity missed, it was also a very brief pause for breath for the visitors’ defence, one which came to and end when Barcelona finally made their domination count.
It was Suarez who broke the deadlock. Neymar had dropped deep and played a long ball forward with a pass nearly as good as Busquets’ earlier effort. Dani Alves timed his angled run perfectly and he crossed for Suarez to walk the ball over the line.
That was on the quarter-hour and three minutes later Messi netted to double the lead. A sublime 27-pass move ended with the Argentinian dinking the ball over the advancing Szczesny to score.
Barca let-up slightly and Alessandro Florenzi forced Ter Stegen to save at his near post but the home side were in complete control and it was three before the break when a Neymar ball into the area was headed clear straight to Suarez who thumped it past Szczesny for his 17th goal of the season.
Neymar should have made it four at the start of the second half but Szczesny saved his shot and Roma could have narrowed the lead but Iago Falque shot straight at Ter Stegen from point blank range.DM.