May 6, 2015: The football world had only match on their mind as Barcelona faced off against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League.
The stakes were high and the sub-plots that could easily be a part of a racy thriller. The arena was the intimidating Camp Nou. Barcelona were welcoming back one of its favourite sons. Pep Guardiola was making a return to his club, but with the Bavarian gaints. The two sides were dominating their respective domestic leagues.
Under Guardiola, the Catalans had four trophy-laden seasons. There was an emphasis on homegrown graduates from the La Masia and possession-based football. And leading Guardiola’s line was Lionel Messi.
This encounter will undoubtedly be one of the Argentine’s greatest performances on the field. With Luis Suarez and Neymar on either side, world football was witnessing one of the most deadliest trios on the football field.
Barcelona created a handful of openings but just couldn’t find their finishing boots on that day. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was responsible for thwarting at least three chances. Deep into the second half, the crowd went a little silent, perhaps fearing a frustrating goalless draw.
Just then, Messi found an inch of space on the right, cut in, and blasted a shot home through the near post of Neuer. And, soon after, the six-time Ballon d’Or’s treatment of defender Jerome Boateng would be talked about in the years to come. With one deft move, Messi left the German World Cup-winner on the floor and dinked past the onrushing keeper with the ease of a training ground routine.
Messi’s magic had knocked the wind out of Bayern’s sails with two goals.
In stoppage time, Neymar added a third to virtually put the tie beyond the reach of their opponents. Who would have thought that one day, Guardiola himself would get the Messi treatment. Barcelona went on to complete the treble for the second time in six years.
Watch full highlights of the match here: