Spotlight on Lionel Messi
After one of football's most destructive scandals, the task facing Barcelona and Juventus in the Champions League final today seems simple. Showing the sport at its best, with an entertaining demonstration of artistry, should ensure that the limelight swings back on the players for at least a couple of hours.
It seems a heavy burden, but this will be a game starring Lionel Messi, who possesses the finesse and repertoire of goals to captivate the world in an instant.
"There are moments when Messi has the ball and what happens next is only down to him," Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano said, "no matter what his opponents do."
Messi is trying to become the first player to score in three Champions League finals after netting in Barca's 2009 and 2011 triumphs.
"An extraterrestrial who plays with us humans," is how Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon lauded the player he is preparing to face today.
A fourth Champions League title would enhance Messi's credentials to reclaim the Ballon D'Or trophy from Cristiano Ronaldo and become a five-time winner of football's top individual award.