Barcelona’s Neymar anticipating ‘dream I’ve had as a boy’ to win Champions League

'We have the chance to win and I will do my all to win the title' declares Barca's Neymar ahead of Saturday's Champions League final against Juventus.

Barcelona's Neymar leaves the pitch after a training session on Tuesday ahead of Saturday's Champions League final against Juventus in Berlin. Albert Gea / Reuters / June 2, 2015
Powered by automated translation

Barcelona forward Neymar can hardly wait to play in his first ever Champions League final on Saturday.

Neymar has followed in a rich tradition of Brazilian players to wear the Barca jersey but not all of them have lifted the Champions League trophy while at the club.

“To play in the final is a dream that I’ve had as a boy and I’m very close to it,” Neymar said to Spanish TV station TVE in the build-up to the match against Juventus in Berlin.

“We hope we play a great game and we win.”

The La Liga champions last won the competition in 2011 and were eliminated last season by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals in Neymar’s first year at the club.

Neymar has scored nine goals in the Champions League this season, one less than teammate Lionel Messi, who is the tournament’s leading scorer.

The 23-year-old forms a star-studded attacking trio alongside Messi and Luis Suarez that has combined for 120 goals in all competitions.

“To play with Messi and Luis Suarez is a pleasure,” the Brazil international said. “It’s an honour to play with two football giants as they are.”

Barca, under first-year coach Luis Enrique, have enjoyed a hugely successful campaign already.

They won the Spanish title and claimed a record 27th Copa del Rey trophy – Neymar’s first with the team since arriving two years ago.

Juve, who eliminated Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, have also enjoyed a successful season under coach Massimiliano Allegri in his first year at the club.

The Italian champions won the domestic double for the first time since the 1994/95 campaign.

Juventus lost just three of their 38 Serie A games overall and finished 17 points clear of nearest rivals AS Roma.

Beating them will be no easy task, according to Neymar.

“Juve are a dangerous side at the back, in the middle and up front,” he said. “It’s no fluke that they are in the final.”

Barca are the only Spanish club to have won a La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble, having done so under Pep Guardiola in the 2008/09 campaign.

Victory on Saturday would see Barca repeat that feat and hand Neymar his first treble.

“We have the chance to win and I will do my all to win the title,” he said. “The team is happy.

“There’s a good atmosphere.”

Barcelona can welcome back midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is expected to start.

Iniesta, who missed his team’s training sessions this week after sustaining a calf injury in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, returned to training on Thursday.

Saturday’s game will be Barca captain Xavi’s last appearance for the club.

The 35-year-old midfielder will join Qatari side Al Sadd this summer.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE