Barcelona collected their fourth Champions League title since 2006, their fifth overall, with one of their most impressive sides they have ever accumulated. They defeated a strong Juventus side 3-1 in the final, with their front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez emerging as one of the best attacking trios in the history of the competition.
The 60th incarnation of the European Cup found was affected by political climates; due to the unrest between Russia and Ukraine, teams were not to be drawn against each other, while teams from Israel were prohibited from hosting any Uefa competition due to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The 2014-15 season was also the first in which teams were forced to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations, whilst the now-conventional ‘vanishing spray’ was first introduced.
With Real Madrid winning their coveted La Decima trophy the previous season, Barcelona reacted by bringing in former player Luis Enrique as coach to organise a hugely talented squad, which included the acquisition of Luis Suarez from Liverpool. Real Madrid brought in James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, while Chelsea snapped up Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.
Defending champions Madrid started their campaign in emphatic fashion, demolishing Basel 5-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. In a group alongside the Swiss, Liverpool, and Ludogorets, Los Blancos won every single match to progress to the knockout stage.
Barcelona enjoyed similar success, dropping points only once in a group with Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, and APOEL. Eventual finalists, Juventus, finished second in their respective group with Atletico Madrid, Olympiakos, and Malmo.
The biggest wins of the group stage came courtesy of Bayern Munich, who destroyed Roma 7-1 in the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital, and Shakhtar Donetsk, who put BATE to the sword with a 7-0 victory. Three teams progressed to the knockout stage without losing a single game; Madrid, Chelsea, and Porto.
Liverpool, having come so close to winning the Premier League title the season prior, could not deal with the loss of Suarez to Barcelona and could only finish third in their group, Basel qualifying ahead of them.
The Round of 16 draw, as it usually does, provided some mouth-watering ties. Juventus were superb in their defeat of Borussia Dortmund, 5-1 on aggregate, while a late Thiago Silva header in extra-time pushed PSG past Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Barcelona, and Suarez, were too good for Manchester City, the Uruguayan scoring two in a 3-1 aggregate victory. Elsewhere Bayern Munich demolished Shakhtar Donetsk, while Arsenal were embarrassed by Monaco.
There'll be a great celebration tomorrow. It's been a difficult year, a transitional year, but I want to thank all those people who trusted me, and all the people who supported me within the club and my family – I'm elated.Luis Enrique
Two of the quarter-final matchups proved to be extremely tight, with Juventus overcoming Monaco courtesy of a Arturo Vidal penalty, while Real Madrid knocked out Atletico Madrid - another meeting between the sides following the final of the previous year - only courtesy of an 88th minute goal from Chicharito in the second leg. The other two fixtures in the last eight saw Barcelona comprehensively eliminate PSG, Neymar and Suarez taking centre stage, while Porto were no match for a Bayern Munich side well-fancied under Pep Guardiola.
But in the last four, Guardiola’s return to Camp Nou to face former side Barcelona was a sour one, Messi’s twisting of the blood of Jerome Boateng on the way to a 5-3 aggregate victory an abiding memory. Madrid were backed to provide the first-ever Clasico final in the history of the tournament, but they were outdone by one of their own. Alvaro Morata, on loan in Turin, scored in both legs as Juventus narrowly secured a 3-2 aggregate win.
The final between Barcelona and Juventus in the Olympiastadion, Berlin, was unique in that whichever side emerged victorious would secure a historic treble after already securing their respective domestic leagues and cups. It was also the first time that the two sides had faced each other in the final of European competition, and Barcelona immediately claimed the initiative, Ivan Rakitic firing home after just four minutes. Juve rallied in the second half, the defiant Morata equalising after Carlos Tevez’s shot was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
But this Barca team, particularly their front three, were at their peak and showcased their ability in the second half, Suarez and Neymar sealing the victory and proving the Catalan side to be the best in class once more.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Joint top goalscorer as well as the top assist maker in the tournament, Messi was imperious alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
Knocking out Manchester City, PSG, Bayern Munich, and then eventually Juventus is no easy feat, but doing it without the team every really looking threatened is something else.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The Brazilian scored the most goals alongside Ronaldo and Messi, but it was the timing and importance of his goals which set him apart.
CRISTIANO RONALDO, LIONEL MESSI, NEYMAR - 10 GOALS
TEAM OF THE SEASON
BUFFON; IVANOVIC, CHIELLINI, PIQUE, ALBA; BUSQUETS, RAKITIC, PIRLO; SUAREZ, MESSI, NEYMAR.
GOAL OF THE SEASON
LIONEL MESSI enjoyed one of the tournaments of his career in 2014-15. Arguably his moment of the season came via a meme-worthy moment in which he embarrassed Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer with a speedy dribble and delightful chip.
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Messi picks up possession just outside the box and pulls off an outrageous change of pace and body shift to put Boateng on the ground before going on to lob Neuer with aplomb.