FC Barcelona vs River Plate : Full highlights
A goal from Lionel Messi and a brace from Luis Suarez saw Barcelona defeat River Plate 3-0 in Yokohama to win the FIFA Club World Cup and claim a triumphant 2015 for the Catalan club.
Messi opened the scoring 10 minutes right before the end of a rather difficult first half for Barcelona, who were tested effectively by River’s intensity, but the European champions then struck again early in the second half through Suarez and the Uruguayan finally sealed their third world title by expertly heading home a cross from Neymar.
Barcelona thus become the very first team to win the trophy three times now, surpassing the previous two titles won by Corinthians, while Messi, Andres Iniesta, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique being the only players to collect three winners’ medals.
This was the absolutely perfect way for Barca to finish a stellar year in which they had already acquired the Primera Division title, Champions League, Copa del Rey and also the UEFA Super Cup, with the only trophy they failed to win being the Spanish Super Cup.
Before the game River manager Marcelo Gallardo confessed his side would have to deliver “a perfect game on every level” if they were to gain a victory, adding “Barcelona have the best players, but we have huge hearts”.
The big news before the kick-off was that Neymar and Messi both returned in the starting line-up after missing out on the semi-final victory over Guangzhou Evergrande, the Brazilian recovering from the groin strain while the Argentinian had overcome his abdominal pains.
Their returns gave Luis Enrique chance to field the same team as it was in the Champions League final against Juventus, with the minor exception of Claudio Bravo starting in goal instead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Gallardo, meanwhile, made just one tiny change to the team that was able to scrape to a 1-0 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima, becckoning in Tabare Viudez for Leonardo Pisculichi.
River’s intended tactics were to press Barca high up the ground to disrupt their passing game and stifle creation. It worked for a large part of the first half, even if they had to resort to frequent tactical fouling.