Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Lionel Messi 'the best' says Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, centre, reacts after scoring his third goal against Bayer 04 Leverkusen during a Champions League round of sixteen, second leg, soccer match at the Nou Camp, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 7, 2012
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, centre, reacts after scoring his third goal against Bayer 04 Leverkusen during a Champions League round of sixteen, second leg, soccer match at the Nou Camp, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 7, 2012
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Christian Tello of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at Camp Nou on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona scores his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou stadium on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Simon Rolfes, third right, duels for the ball against FC Barcelona's Keita, center, during a Champions League round of sixteen, second leg, soccer match at the Nou Camp, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (L) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at Camp Nou on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, back to camera, of Argentina, scores during the Champions League round of sixteen, second leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 7, 2012
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Head coach Robin Dutt (L) of Bayer 04 Leverkusen congratulates head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou stadium on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi (L) of FC Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his teammate Pedro Rodriguez during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou stadium on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (L) celebrates with his teammate Christian Tello of FC Barcelona after scoring his fifth goal, seventh of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at Camp Nou on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 7-1 and Lionel Messi scored 5 goals. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi (2nd L) of FC Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his teammates Andres Iniesta (L), Pedro Rodriguez (2nd R) and Cesc Fabregas during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou stadium on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed the unique talents of Lionel Messi after the Argentina forward's five goals against Bayer Leverkusen last night eased the holders into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

MESSI'S THE BEST - GUARDIOLA



The Catalan side destroyed Leverkusen 7-1 at the Nou Camp to secure a 10-2 aggregate victory, Messi stealing the show by becoming the first player to score five in a single Champions League game while substitute Cristian Tello added two in a performance of startling brilliance.

Guardiola labelled Messi "the best" after the match, and said he felt fortunate to be working with the 24-year-old.

"I'm lucky to coach and manage this player," the Barca boss said.

"He is the best. There's no-one else. He is a unique player because of his innate talent and also for his competitiveness.

"We will not see another player like Messi. It's not easy to score five goals, and one day he will score six."

Asked to compare Messi to legends like Johan Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano, Diego Maradona and Pele, Guardiola said: "The throne is his. Only he will decide when to leave it."

Guardiola continued on www.fcbarcelona.cat: "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].

"We are very fortunate to have a player like this. We can only enjoy him and this team."

Karim Bellarabi managed a consolation in stoppage time for Leverkusen, but nothing took the shine off Barca's superb display.

"What I'm taking away from this match is that we qualified for the next round and that the team took this game seriously," Guardiola added.

"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."

Also last night, goalkeeper Dionissis Chiotis was the hero as he saved twice in a penalty shootout to send APOEL Nicosia into the last eight at the expense of Lyon after the tie finished 1-1 after extra time in Cyprus.

Gustavo Manduca scored the only goal of the night in normal time to cancel out Alexandre Lacazette's winner for Lyon in the first leg.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre