08 March 2012

Josep Guardiola: “I'm very fortunate to train Messi”

The manager says that Barcelona should feel fortunate to have a player like Messi. Guardiola highlights the Argentinian’s “innate talent” and “competitive capacity” as the key factors that make him the “best” footballer.

Guardiola believes that his team’s fifth consecutive qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals is due to the “Club’s stability”.

Barça earned a ticket to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the team’s fifth consecutive qualification for this round, against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Without a doubt, Lionel Messi, with five of Barça’s seven goals, was the man of the match in Barça’s rout of the German side at the Camp Nou. Josep Guardiola, who believes that the Argentinian “is the best” bar none, said that that he feels fortunate to have “coached and managed this player.” For the manager, the Barça superstar is “unique because of his talent and for his competitive capacity.”

“The circumstances don’t matter, he competes against himself. We only try to provide the conditions so that he can receive [the ball] as many times as possible where he feels comfortable [on the pitch]. It’s not easy to score five goals in a game. We are very fortunate to have a player like this, we can only enjoy him and this team,” he said just before he compared Messi to other football greats like Cruyff, Di Stefano, Maradona and Pelé. “The throne is his, only he will decide when to leave it,” said Guardiola.

The fact that the team played as if the 1-3 from the away leg wasn’t a factor, made Guardiola brim with pride during the post-match press conference: “what I’m taking away from this match is that we qualified for the next round and that the team took this game seriously. These players have done it again, they have given us a prize; they’ve taken us to the quarter-finals. The most beautiful thing about qualifying is that we can continue playing in this special tournament.”

Finally, Guardiola, who described his team’s situation in the Liga as “on the edge” because of injuries, said that the team he wouldn’t like to face in the next round is AC Milan because both Barça and the Italian side have already played together in the group stage. “We’re excited about the prospect of competing well,” he concluded. (via FCBarcelona.com)