Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi share a special story. And even today the coach makes his players hot with Messi comparisons.
Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola, this is more than just a normal relationship between a coach and his player. It was Guardiola who once formed Messi into a world-class player at FC Barcelona.
The Argentinian’s special talent on the one hand and the coach’s genius on the other, with which Guardiola revolutionized football, made Barcelona the dominant power in Europe between 2008 and 2012.
After that, the two parted ways. After a year’s break, Guardiola first became coach of FC Bayern and later Manchester City, while Messi remained loyal to his Catalan heart club – until he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in tears last year. But the two still have a close relationship, which also becomes clear when they meet.
This was also the case last year in the Champions League when Manchester City and PSG were in a group. On the second day of the game, the first meeting took place in the Prinzenparkstadion, which the French won 2-0. And Messi not only delighted the PSG fans in the stadium with his beautiful final goal, but also his former coach.
Pep encourages Man City players: “Messi is an animal!”
Three weeks later, when the next match day in the premier class was on the agenda, the English made a guest appearance at Club Brugge. The Cityzens were already 2-0 up at half time, but Guardiola wasn’t really happy and in the dressing room speech he recalled his favorite student who had teased him so much three weeks earlier. And so he made it clear to his current players that they can’t hold a candle to Messi after all.
Do you know why Messi is the best player I’ve ever seen in my life? Because he’s a competitor. He’s an animal,” Guardiola said clearly to his players’ faces. Thanks to the documentary “Together: Champions Again!”, which accompanied City’s 2021/22 season, fans can get a glimpse of these scenes.
Guardiola was annoyed that night in Brugge at what he saw as his side’s little desire to score. It’s completely different with Messi. “Messi passes the ball and then goes inside. He smells the goal,” said Guardiola. Now a player who is one of the best of the best in world football probably doesn’t like it when another player is praised like that. If Guardiola wanted to stimulate his team with it, it was successful. His stars added three more goals in Brugge and eventually won 5-1.
In the second leg between City and PSG, Messi then remained without a goal, after the bankruptcy in the first leg, the Guardiola team took revenge with a 2-1 win at home at Etihad. Both clubs reached the round of 16, but the hoped-for triumph in the premier class failed to materialize again. Both were eliminated by Real Madrid, PSG directly in the round of 16, City later in the semifinals. Something else that connects Messi and Guardiola.