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Lionel Messi admits talks ended after Pep Guardiola's Barcelona exit

By Robert Jones

Published 06/05/2015

Barcelona star Lionel Messi
Barcelona star Lionel Messi

Barcelona star Lionel Messi says that the one-time "fantastic" relationship he enjoyed with Pep Guardiola no longer exists.

The former Barcelona manager returns to the Nou Camp tonight when Bayern Munich look to repeat their 7-0 demolition of the Catalans at the same stage of the competition two years ago.

Guardiola enjoyed glittering success in charge of the La Liga giants, including two Champions League titles and three Liga crowns, and while Messi acknowledges the impact the coach had, things have changed between the pair.

"We had a great time when Pep was here," he said.

"We won a lot of titles and I grew a lot - that was the time when I grew most as a footballer.

"We had a fantastic relationship when he was here.

"I have seen him a few times since he left, but we don't have any kind of relationship now.

"Guardiola knows us, he knows us all well. We were lucky enough to win a lot of titles with him.

"Based on what Guardiola meant to the club in his time as coach, I think he will get a good welcome.

"He gave a lot to the club and he is from here, but I think the fans will support the club and want us to win the game."

Manuel Neuer says he is ready to show Messi "who's boss" once again.

Neuer had the better of Messi in the World Cup final last summer as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final in Brazil.

And while the Bayern keeper has a high opinion of Barcelona's all-time record goalscorer, he will not be cowed by his presence.

"I have a lot of respect for Messi and for everything that he has achieved. He is very humble," Neuer said.

"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.

"We will be looking to do the same. It is vital to obtain a position of dominance and instil respect.

"We have to make good use of our physical presence, our character and show a certain ruthlessness."

Bayern are beset by injuries with key players like David Alaba, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben all missing.

Guardiola's side have also suffered a downturn in form, losing to Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend and in the German Cup semi-finals to Borussia Dortmund before that.

The odds seem to be stacked against the 2013 winners and Neuer says Bayern will treat tonight's game like a final

"The game against Barcelona is a final before the final," Neuer added.

"Our goal is to make it to the showpiece in Berlin.

"We dominated Barcelona in both legs in the semi-finals two years ago, but the situation has changed.

"This time they have no injuries and Messi is back to his best, while we are missing several key players.

"We know that we face a tough task, but I am confident we will get our chances."

Champions League: Barcelona v Bayern Munich, Nou Camp, 7.45 pm (Sky TV)

Belfast Telegraph

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