Pep Guardiola: interview on Messi and Paris Saint-Germain

Manchester City coach football manager says watching Lionel Messi playing for Paris Saint-Germain is unusual

Lionel Messi is lined-up for PSG’s squad for Tuesday’s Champions League game against ManCity at the Parc des Princes football stadium in Paris; Pep Guardiola reveals his surprise at Messi’s PSG move: “It was a surprise for everyone but that’s what happened.”

Lionel Messi will be in Paris Saint-Germain’s squad to face Manchester City on Tuesday after a knee issue, as Pep Guardiola admits he “doesn’t know how to stop” their Champions League opponents.

Messi has missed PSG’s last two games but returned to training on Monday.

PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino would not confirm if the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will start against City in what is a repeat of last season’s Champions League semi-final.

“He is in a very good way,” said Pochettino. “I think he will be in the squad tomorrow but I still haven’t decided on the starting XI.”

Guardiola and Messi won 14 trophies together at Barcelona during a four-year period, including two Champions League titles.


When Barcelona could not renew Messi’s contract due to financial fair play rules, he was linked with a reunion with Guardiola at City but instead joined PSG on a free transfer.

“It was a surprise for everyone (that Messi left Barcelona) but that’s what happened,” said Guardiola. “Everyone now accepts it.

“A long time ago you couldn’t imagine it but it happened. In life itself you never know what happens. I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy in Paris.

“His career is exceptional. Hopefully tomorrow he can play for the benefit of the game.”

Since Guardiola left Barcelona no player has scored more goals against his teams in the Champions League than Messi.

Messi, 34, is yet to score for PSG though having struggled with fitness issues and injury since his arrival.

He has featured in just three games, completing the full 90 minutes only once, and did not shake hands with Pochettino when he was substituted after 75 minutes in his last game against Lyon.

Messi started in attack alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in their opening Champions League group game but the trio failed to impress as PSG drew 1-1 at Club Brugge.

Guardiola remains unconvinced his City side will be able to nullify their threat though.

“With this amount of quality I don’t know how to stop them, they’re so good,” said Guardiola. “This amount of talent makes it so difficult.

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“They were a fantastic team last season. It was a tight game. And now they have Messi.”

City produced a memorable performance over two legs to beat PSG in last year’s semi-finals.

Since then the French club have bolstered their already star-studded ranks with the additions of six-time world player of the year Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Achraf Hakimi.

City midfielder Riyad Mahrez said: “PSG have a very good team, more or less the same as last season, adding Messi and (Georginio) Wijnaldum and a few others.

“They are stronger this season, they have a bigger squad. It’s going to be more or less the same game as last season, very tight.”

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