Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola says there is no team or system that can stop Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
On Wednesday, for the first time since leaving the Catalan club in 2012, Guardiola will face off against his former club at the Camp Nou. In recent days the debate has raged as to whether the Bayern coach’s first-hand knowledge of Barcelona will have a significant effect on the Champions League semi-final’s outcome.
While that topic can be argued between fans and pundits, Guardiola believes there is no debate regarding his team’s chances of corralling Barcelona’s star man, Lionel Messi.
Messi has 53 goals and 27 assists in all competitions in what many are calling the Argentine’s best season at the club.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Guardiola proclaimed there was no way for any team or coach to suppress Messi’s influence on the game.
“If he plays like he’s been playing recently, there is no defense which can stop him – not even with nine at the back,” Guardiola said.
“There’s no team, no system or coach who can stop Messi. You can’t defend against that kind of talent. All you can do is try to limit, close down channels where he can get the ball; but even then, you won’t completely stop him.”
When asked about making his return to the Camp Nou after so many prosperous seasons with the Catalan club, Guardiola praised his former club while stressing that his job now was to ensure Bayern Munich progress to the Champions League final in Berlin.
“It’s fantastic to be back,” the former Barcelona coach added. “I’ve got many good memories.
“I spent four years sat here in this seat and of course it brings back a lot of memories.
“But there’s a first time for everything and now my job is to get Bayern into the final and I’ll do the best I can do.
“I’m not here to be lauded, I’m here to get my team into the final.”
Programming note: Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich will be shown LIVE on Wednesday at 2:45pm EST on FOX Sports 1 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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