Barcelona's brilliance to the power of three

Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar have scored 114 goals between them this season; UEFA.com's Andy James is shocked by the power of Europe's most fearsome frontline.

Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi and Neymar; the world's most fearsome front three?
Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi and Neymar; the world's most fearsome front three? ©Getty Images

It did not take their 5-3 aggregate success over FC Bayern München to convince us that FC Barcelona boast the most fearsome frontline in Europe at present.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar had already contributed a staggering 112 goals between them across all competitions this season before the latter added another two to ensure the Spanish giants reached their first UEFA Champions League final since 2011 despite Bayern fighting back to win their semi-final second leg 3-2 at the Fußball Arena München.

Undone by a 13-minute salvo at Camp Nou a week earlier, Messi striking twice and teeing up Neymar to create 3-0 first-leg advantage, Bayern set out to shackle the South American strikeforce on home turf and hopes of a recovery considerably increased when Medhi Benatia headed in unmarked after just seven minutes.

However, just as they had done six days previously, the 'MSN', as Barça's prolific triumvirate are now known across social media, soon combined to turn the game. Neymar's brace – the first a simple finish and the second a smart half-volley into the near corner – provided the vital away goals which all but rubberstamped Barça's ticket to Berlin, and maintained the breathtaking form which could yet take the Spanish giants back to the pinnacle of the European game.

World-class individual players in their own right, Messi, Suárez and Neymar are nigh-on unstoppable as a united front. Messi and Neymar did the damage in the first leg, but in Munich all three combined to burst Bayern's early bubble. Their interplay for the opening goal was sublime. Messi's weighted pass sent Suárez scampering through and the Uruguayan unselfishly teed up Neymar for an easy equaliser.

Neymar shone brightest in Munich
Neymar shone brightest in Munich©Getty Images

Messi had a smaller but nonetheless crucial hand in the second, flicking on a long pass forward to allow Suárez to cross. This time Neymar had work to do, controlling well before sweeping past the diving Manuel Neuer. That goal meant the Barça trio have now scored 25 of their team's 28 goals in this season's UEFA Champions League – a sure indication of who have been behind the Blaugrana's success.

It certainly bodes well for a club who, to the outsider at least, appear to have been in a period of perpetual transition following the departure of beloved head coach Josep Guardiola in 2012. Tito Vilanova and Gerardo Martino each struggled to live up to Guardiola's legacy, which of course included two UEFA Champions League victories, and initially there were doubts that Luis Enriqué would fare any better when he took the helm last May.

Yet after some inevitable teething problems, Barça now find themselves in contention for a league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble, having lost just two of their last 31 competitive outings. Enriqué's task has certainly been made easier by the explosive form of Messi, Suárez and Neymar, but credit must go to the coach for finding a way to harmonise his three attacking assets so seamlessly.

Indeed, many questioned whether Neymar would fit in at Barcelona following his transfer from Brazilian club Santos FC in 2013. Would he be able to play alongside Messi? Would his superstar presence create an imbalance in the squad? Those doubters may well have felt vindicated after he struck a relatively – and I stress relatively – meagre 15 goals last term. This season that tally has more than doubled to 37 – and counting – and his understanding with Messi has been close to telepathic at times.

Seeing the two bundle each other to the ground after Neymar netted number three against Bayern in the first leg suggested these two superstars get along just fine – on and off the pitch. Add the tenacity and hunger of Suárez to the mix and you have possibly the most formidable strikeforce in European football – and one which will have the chance to prove as much in next month's UEFA Champions League final in Berlin.

Luis Suárez and Neymar in training on Monday
Luis Suárez and Neymar in training on Monday©Getty Images