Cruyff: Messi saved Barcelona against Juventus

The Dutch legend argued the Argentine had been instrumental in the Champions League final despite not scoring or setting up any goals

Johan Cryuff believes  Barcelona could not have beaten Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final without their talisman Lionel Messi showing off the selfless aspects of his game.

Messi was expected to show up decisively in the Berlin final but failed to score, while Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar all found the net as Juventus even managed to shut the Argentine down for long spells of the game.

But Cruyff argued it was the other side of the four time Ballon d'Or winner that the world witnessed on Saturday, with his work and sacrifice for the team being fundamental to the Catalans' eventual success.

"It was a fun Champions League final to watch, also because Barcelona and Juventus both played as we all expected," the Dutchman, who won the European Cup with Barca as coach, wrote in De Telegraaf.

"With his style of play, Messi relieved his team. Against Juventus, you could see how he works at Barcelona.

"You didn't see him participate in a lot of moves, but just check how often he put pressure on his direct opponent and won back ball posession. How many free-kicks did he win?"

The 68-year-old saw Netherlands surrender a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to the United States in Amsterdam on Friday and he blamed the defeat on the lack of the very team spirit amongst the players that Messi displayed the following day.

"I missed that sense of sacrifice during the Netherlands' loss to America. Playing means to help other players, instead of causing problems for your own team-mates."