YOKOHAMA, Japan: Barcelona striker Luis Suarez warned that the Spanish giants will be hungry for even more silverware after capturing a record third Club World Cup.
The Uruguayan fired a second-half double as European champions brushed aside Argentina’s River Plate 3-0 in Sunday’s finals in Yokohama before insisting Barca’s appetite for success would not be dimmed after lifting a fifth trophy of 2015.
“After a competition like this the majority of teams suffer a dip,” said Suarez. “We have to avoid that and we have that desire to keep on winning titles and show that we’re the best team in the world.”
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu described Lionel Messi as the greatest ever after the Argentine wizard returned from a bout of kidney stones to score Barca’s opener.
“Leo Messi is the best player in the history of football,” he said. “It’s spectacular what we have achieved.”
Messi became the first player to score in three Club World Cup finals, after leading Barca to victory in 2009 and 2011, when he netted with a deft flick of his left boot nine minutes before half-time.
However, it was the prolific Suarez who stole the show with a second-half double, collecting the player of the tournament and golden boot awards after scoring five goals in two games in Japan.
Suarez, who bagged a hat-trick in Barca’s 3-0 semi-final win over Guangzhou Evergrande, has struck 24 goals in 24 games this season, including 17 in his last 11.
But the former Liverpool striker is content to let Messi and Neymar, who returned from a groin strain to start against River, take the plaudits.
“They are the top two players in the world,” said Suarez. “You know you will get chances to score playing alongside them.”
Astonishingly, Messi (47), Suarez (46) and Neymar (41) have plundered 134 goals in 2015 — more than Real Madrid.
“Messi could barely stand up a few days ago,” said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. “But he was desperate to play. He is a leader, our reference point.
“But the players with most weight in the dressing room are the first to show their desire,” Enrique added. “That determination rubs off on the rest of the team.”
Barcelona fly back to Spain on Monday still top of La Liga, level on points with Atletico Madrid and two points clear of bitter rivals Real, who pulverised Rayo Vallecano 10-2 at the weekend, and with a game in hand.
And Enrique insisted Barcelona, who have collected the European Champions League, La Liga, the Copa del Rey and European Super Cup this year, will hit the ground running.
“Clearly it does get more and more difficult to win trophies,” he said. “But if these players have shown anything it is their hunger to do just that.”
European teams have won the Club World Cup eight times in the 12 years it has been played, underlining a gulf in class partly explained by the fact that six of Barca’s starting 11 on Sunday were South Americans.
River coach Marcelo Gallardo sighed: “We had a game plan. When Messi scored, it went out of the window.”