5 Star Names of Champions League Finals for BarcelonaJune 2, 2015
5 Star Names of Champions League Finals for Barcelona
When Barcelona have played in the Champions League final, invariably there have been one or two architects of their victories, players who have provided game-winning contributions.
At that sort of level, to still be head and shoulders above your contemporaries shows the incredible ability of these individuals and also their mentality, desire and drive to become the absolute best.
Not just European class but world class.
Let's take a look at five star names from Barca's previous Champions League finals...
Michael Laudrup: Wembley 1992
Wembley 1992 is a special place and time for Barcelona.
Their first-ever European Cup was won in London, and while the match will always be remembered for a thunderbolt from Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup deserves a special mention.
One of the most naturally gifted members of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team, the Dane was a well-used member of the side and often the player through whom most of Barca's chances were created.
Although Sampdoria had done their homework, Laudrup still oiled the wheels for the Catalans in the final, gliding around the Wembley pitch as he did so.
Elegant in possession and completely comfortable in his surroundings, Laudrup was often seen spraying 40-yard balls for fun.
A joy to watch.
Henrik Larsson: Paris 2006
He might have only played for half an hour of the final in Paris but Henrik Larsson's cameo in his final appearance for Barcelona changed the course of the game.
Renowned for his intelligence on the field, the Swede was instrumental in turning the tide Barca's way with his movement in the attacking third of the field.
A tiring Arsenal couldn't cope with an effervescent performance and were powerless to stop him providing assists for both of the goals which won the Blaugrana the title.
Xavi Hernandez: Rome 2009
Xavi Hernandez can look back on the 2009 Champions League final with pride, for it was one of his best individual performances.
Once the first 10 minutes of the game had been safely negotiated by the Catalans, Xavi set about running rings around Manchester United's Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung.
It was Xavi's pass to Andres Iniesta which began the move that saw Samuel Eto'o open the scoring, and we all recall just how perfect his pass was to Lionel Messi for the second goal of the night.
Xavi must've covered every blade of grass on that balmy May evening and he was a worthy man of the match.
Andres Iniesta: Rome 2009
Xavi's partner-in-crime Andres Iniesta is also owed a huge debt of gratitude by Barca's fans.
Pete Jenson of the Independent noted Iniesta's words after the victory in Rome:
I told my father that if it meant playing with a hole in the leg I would be on the pitch to start the game.
We all knew the risks we were running with me being in the side but we decided to gamble; even in the second half when they told me that I could not shoot at goal because there were signs that I had injured the same muscle.
They said I was OK to play short passes and to sprint and with that you can play football.
It was touch and go that Iniesta would even make the final but after missing out on a starting berth in 2006, nothing was going to stop him being involved.
That he managed to be so effective alongside Xavi deserves acclaim.
Not only for the way that he was able to not only keep going for the full 90 minutes but also that he was more than capable of diluting any influence from Manchester United's fully fit midfield.
Lionel Messi: Wembey 2011
This is a final that will be cherished for all sorts of reasons.
Eric Abidal's lifting of the trophy is an iconic moment that will live long in the memory, as will a stunning performance from Lionel Messi.
Like Xavi two years previously, Messi was virtually unplayable.
Barcelona under Pep Guardiola were probably never better than at Wembley that night and dominated proceedings throughout.
Alex Ferguson even admitted that his team had been beaten by the best club side he had ever faced in all of his years of management, per Dominic Fifield of the Guardian.
Messi's goal was reward for a hardworking performance throughout to cement his place at the pinnacle of the football tree.