Guardiola, Messi cross paths again as PSG face Man City

Messi and Pep

Lionel Messi and Pep
Guardiola reunion looked distinctly in the recent transfer window, but now they
will be once again meeting on opposite sides when Paris Saint-Germain play
Manchester City in the Champions League.

Had it not been for Jack Grealish, perhaps things would have
turned out differently.

City announced the £100 million ($139m) signing of Grealish
from Aston Villa on August 5, the same day Barcelona revealed Messi would not
be staying at the Camp Nou.

A year ago, when Messi tried to force his departure from
Catalonia, City appeared the most likely destination.

In the end Barcelona prevented the six-time Ballon d’Or
winner from leaving then and 12 months later Messi was prepared to stay put
until it became clear the financial mess at the Camp Nou meant he could not.

If City had anticipated Messi becoming available, they might
have moved for him. But instead they focused their sights on Grealish and were
trying to sign Harry Kane, a move that ultimately didn’t happen.

“Right now it is not in our thoughts,” Guardiola
said when asked if City might move for Messi.

It says much about the modern game that PSG were the only
other realistic destination for the 34-year-old who Guardiola has described as
the greatest player of all time.

Messi has played just three games for his new club and is
yet to score. He has sat out PSG’s last two matches with a knee problem but the
feeling is that Mauricio Pochettino has been saving him for City.

After being held 1-1 by Club Brugge in their opening game,
PSG need a positive result against City to stop their rivals taking control of
their Champions League group.

On the receiving end

Messi will fancy opening his account in Paris on such an
occasion, and Guardiola has already been on the receiving end of the
Argentine’s genius in Europe.

After Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012 at the end of four
glorious years in which he oversaw Messi’s transition from superstar in the
making to the best in the world, he faced his old club for the first time in
the Champions League semi-finals in 2015.

Barcelona beat Guardiola’s Bayern 5-3 on aggregate on the
way to winning the trophy. Messi produced a sublime performance to score two
late goals in a 3-0 first-leg win at the Camp Nou that effectively killed the
tie.

The only other time the duo have come up against each other
was in the group stage in 2016, just after Guardiola arrived at City.

Messi scored a hat-trick as Barca won 4-0 at the Camp Nou
and he then put his side ahead in Manchester, but City won 3-1.

This time the expectation is both City and PSG will progress
from their group and both men are desperate to win the Champions League again
–- the last of Messi’s four titles came in 2015, while Guardiola has not lifted
the trophy since Messi inspired Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Manchester United
in the 2011 final.

While the world waits to see how Messi’s move to Paris turns
out, Guardiola continues to regret the absence of a prolific centre-forward as
the final piece of his jigsaw at City.

That was evident on Saturday when, for all their chances,
they were restricted to a single goal by Gabriel Jesus in a 1-0 win at Chelsea.

Prior to that Guardiola had spoken of his regret at City’s
lack of a “weapon” up front.

“The club needs in the next years a striker. When it’s
not possible, it’s not possible, we move on with the fantastic squad we
have,” he said.

PSG, of course, have more than one such player. Kylian
Mbappe has been the top scorer in France in each of the last three seasons.

Messi left Barcelona as their all-time top scorer with 672
goals in 778 appearances.

His peak at the Camp Nou came in Guardiola’s final season
there, in 2011-12, when he scored an incredible 73 goals.

Nobody knows Messi’s game better than Guardiola, but nobody
knows better than Pep that there is no stopping Messi when he is at the top of
his game.

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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