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A Champions Conquering run to the Final

The Champions League final will be Barcelona's sixth game against reigning Champions in this season's tournament.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

This season's run to the final has put the literal meaning into the Champions League. In the early days of the tournament, it was only the Champions that would enter the competition. But over time, it became more diluted, allowing other teams into the competition and resemble what we are familiar with today. However this season, every single match of Barça's campaign has been against reigning champions.

The tournament started with Barcelona drawn into Group F, which included the Dutch Champions, French Champions and Cypriot Champions. The Catalan club dominated the group and picked up five wins out of a possible six with just an away defeat to PSG preventing them from 6/6.

After a 1-0 win in the opening game against APOEL, the goals were flowing for Barcelona. Lionel Messi scored in each of the last five remaining group games on his way to becoming the competition's all-time top scorer. Whilst his strike partners Neymar and Luis Suárez also found the back of the net.

The Round of 16 had a familiar feel to it as Barcelona faced the same opponents as they did at the this stage last season in Manchester City. This time though, City were reigning Premier League champions and hoping to finally make a mark in Europe. But Barça showed their class and all but put the tie to bed in the first leg after Suárez netted twice to give Barcelona a 2-1 advantage to take back to the Camp Nou.

The return leg was the story of Joe Hart's heroics in the City net but a Ivan Rakitić goal in the 31st minute was enough to secure Barça's passage to the quarter finals. Similar to the previous round, the quarter finals had a familiar feel again as they were drawn against PSG, Barça's Group F rivals and also the same team that the Catalan club faced at this stage in the tournament of 2012-13.

PSG were dispatched in a similar fashion to City as the attacking trio of Messi, Suárez and Neymar proved too much for the defenders to handle. Suárez bagged a brace in the first leg while Neymar copied the feat in the second. Barcelona qualified for the semi-finals by an aggregate score of 5-1 and set up a reunion with an old friend.

Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich were looking unstoppable. Unfazed in the Bundesliga, they walked to the title and were progressing well in the Champions League. The German side were the tournament's top scorers having secured 7-1, 7-0 and 6-1 wins during the competition.

It was the first time that Barcelona weren't outright favourites to progress and many thought that under the guidance of Guardiola, Bayern would reach the final in Berlin. Lionel Messi had other ideas though. A bold tactic by Guardiola meant Bayern started the game trying to man mark every Barcelona player. This was always going to be dangerous considering the pace of the front three and it required some Manuel Neuer heroics to keep the scores level. But late in the second half, Bayern's legs were gone and Messi capitalised.

The Argentine picked the ball up just outside the area before blasting the ball in at Neuer's near post. Three minutes later it was 2-0. Messi again picked up the ball before producing a piece of skill that made it look like Jérôme Boateng had his shoelaces tied together. To top it off he produced a chip over Neuer, all 6ft 3 of him. Neymar completed the rout in injury time and the image of Guardiola with his head in his hands told a story of the obstacle Bayern were to overcome if they were to reach the final.

The German side did score early in the second leg but a quick fire double from Neymar turned the near-impossible task into the impossible task. Barcelona secured their place in the final and with a record of ten wins out of twelve.

The Italian Champions in Juventus wait for them in the final but this run of Champion-conquering games has shown how strong this Barcelona team is. To win ten out of twelve games against reigning champions with an aggregate scoreline of 28-10 is no easy feat. Not many predicted a Champions League for Barça this year but after that run, it's hard to bet against them.

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