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More than a club; 10 great European Cup moments from Barcelona

We’re just a couple of days out from the biggest game in the European football calender. Aristocrats of the continental game, Barcelona have been here before.

10. Iniesta crosses the Bridge

(2009)

IT WAS AS controversial a semi-final as you are likely to see. Barca travelled to London for their second-leg against Chelsea with the tie delicately poised at 0-0.

A Michael Essien stunner gave the Londoners the lead. What followed next will not be easily forgotten. Chelsea had at least four stone-wall penalty appeals turned down and missed a hatful of chances to finish the tie.

Approaching stoppage time Barca uncharacteristically threw one last ball into the box. It broke for Essien who hacked and missed, Lionel Messi side footed it to Andres Iniesta who took one step before unleashing an arrow into the top corner. Cue delirium, and some typical commentating. Goooooolllll!

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9. England thrown to the Wolves

(1960)

The year is 1960. England is slowly waking up. The mighty Magyars of Hungry showed the home of football a different game seven years previous.

Barcelona arrived at Molineux and continued the trend. Their coach at the time was Helenio Herrera the father of catenaccio, the padlock Italian defensive system that wasn’t defensive according to its founder.

Barca won 5-2 and after the game Herrera explained to the English press “You in England are playing now in the style we Continentals used so many years ago, with much physical strength but no method, no technique.”  Forty one years later, he may still have a point.

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8. School in session at the Camp Nou

(1994)

Manchester United arrived in Barcelona in 1994 fresh from a domestic double but hamstrung by the UEFA three foreigner rule.

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A Barca side featuring an enfant terrible frontline of Hiristo Stochkov and Romario proceeded to feast on a lame United by plundering four goals in a rout that is still remembered fondly in Catalonia, and wincingly in Manchester.

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7. Messi marches in the Bernabeu

(2011)

It was a mere month ago, but if it was decades the force of Lionel Messi’s scythe through Madrid would not fade.

In the midst of a series of nasty, spiteful games the Argentine genius conjured a moment that made it all worth it. Taking the ball off Busquets just outside the centre circle he skated through the Madrid defence as if he was on a train track. One with only the goal as its destination but one capable of violent turns to evade any challenge.

6. Ronnie rules against Milan

(2006)

Just five years ago Barcelona’s European Cup haul stood at one. The second of their triumphs owed much to the dazzling play of Ronaldinho. In the bear pit of the San Siro in the first leg of their semi-final against AC Milan, the Brazilian conjured a sublime pass for Ludovic Guly to score what would be the deciding goal over the two legs.

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5. Messi to the four against Arsenal

(2010)

Forget for a moment the hapless Arsenal defending or the fact that Manuel Almunia was in goal for the Gunners. Last year’s feast from Messi was the highlight of the whole tournament.  Whether it was a blast or a nutmeg, Messi found new ways to score and confirm that he could do it against English clubs. His full-tilt scoop over the keeper for his hat-trick was simply delicious.

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4. Redemption at the Bridge

(2006)

On their way to the title in 2006, Barcelona encountered Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at the quarter-final stage. A win meant more than progression to the semi-finals. Chelsea had stunned Barca the previous year with an epic 4-2 win at Stanford Bridge, sealed with a controversial John Terry goal.

Terry headed into his own net this time and Samuel Eto’o sealed a first leg away win. With it came the belief to go all the way.

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3. Summit reached in Paris

(2006)

Barca faced Arsenal in the Stade de France in 2006 in the Champions league final. Despite losing Jens Lehman early to a red card, a Sol Campbell header gave the English side the lead and Catalonia started to sweat.

The intervention of Henrik Larsson off the bench for Barca proved to be the difference. He laid on the pass which allowed Eto’o to equalize and played his part in Belletti’s winner. The full-back’s celebration is one of the competitions great images.

2. United sacked in the Eternal City

(2009)

The dream final in the most celebrated of settings. FC Barcelona v Manchester United in the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Messi v Ronaldo. The champions against the ultimate contenders.

United flew out of the blocks and dominated for five minutes. Barca then decided to win the game. They passed and moved and the Eternal City hummed to their beat.

Eto’o fired them into the lead. That little Argentinean who couldn’t score against English teams and who was useless in the air, hung in the May night to plant a header and confirm Barca as Champions.

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1. The summit reached at Wembley

It is hard to quantify just how much winning the European Cup for the first time meant to Barcelona.

They had lived seemingly forever in the shadow of Real Madrid’s five-time team.  A club that proclaimed itself one of the biggest in the world had never won the biggest prize.

They had yearned to grab the cup with big ears and Johann Cryuff’s Dream Team of the early 90s did just that. Ronald Koeman was the hero as he rifled home a free-kick in extra time to win the trophy for the first time and start a conga line from Trafalgar square to La Rambla.

About the author:

Paul Ring

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