Pep Guardiola makes his first return to Camp Nou Champions League 2015 since his departure in 2012. It will be an emotional fixture for the former Barcelona coach as he will face the team which he led a few years ago in arguably the most successful era in the club’s history.
Guardiola’s career at the Catalan club both as a player and a manager has been sensational. But it will be interesting to see how the 44-year-old will march his new team against the legends he created in Spain. Guardiola is wary of the threat Messi will impose on Wednesday and he has labeled the Argentine as “unstoppable”.
“There is not a system or coach to stop talent of Messi’s magnitude,” the Bayern Munich boss said.
“The way he has been playing over the past four or five months, you cannot stop him. He is too good.
He added: “Barca is a very important part of my life. Until now it was everything but I am here to win. I am not here for a homage but to see Bayern through to the final.”
Guardiola knows most of Barcelona’s playing eleven from his days at the helm at Barcelona. Hence, we can expect him to line-up his new team based on the inside knowledge and flaws of his opponents.
Guardiola’s former teammate and now the coach of Barca, Luis Enrique claimed that the semi-final against Bayern would be much bigger than Pep vs Barcelona. In his pre-match conference, Enrique said, “We aren’t going into this as a game against Pep.
He added: “He is the number one for what he has achieved and he’s a friend, but this is such an important game for all Barca fans that it should be more important than any specific people.
“It’s nice for the players to meet Guardiola again, but they know that this game is more important than just that. Guardiola knows most of our players but I don’t think that will be decisive. There are many other factors.”
Ahead of the crucial first leg in Spain, Barca stalwart Leo Messi had a few words too. The diminutive Argentine claimed that both Guardiola and Barca players know each other well, so the ball can fall in anyone’s court after the first leg. It will Messi’s 100th European appearance on Wednesday.
“He was with us for a long time and we had the luck to win many titles and experience important moments. He is a coach that studies everything, ” Lionel Messi said.
“It is the same for both sides. Pep knows us very well and we know what he asks of his players. It is 50-50, we both know each other very well.”
He also revealed that they are still hurt by the 7-0 aggregate defeat at the hands of German champions in the Champions League semi-finals of 2013.
“That hurt a lot, but a lot of time has passed,” said the Argentina forward. “We come into the game differently, as do they, and it will be a different tie to that one.”
Manuel Neuer will be in goal against Messi on Wednesday and the German goalkeeper has vowed to show who’s the boss on the pitch.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner said: “I have a lot of respect for Messi and for everything that he has achieved. He is very humble, but it’s crucial to show authority when we meet on the pitch and show him who’s boss. I did the same in the World Cup final and this worked out pretty well.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Bernat, Benatia, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Alonso; Thiago, Gotze; Muller