BARCELONA: Pep Guardiola’s formidable managerial skills will be put to the test again when his stuttering Manchester City side take on his former club Barcelona in a top-of-the-bill Champions League clash today.
Former Barca captain Guardiola, the Catalan club’s most decorated coach with 14 trophies in a scintillating four-year spell, is set for his latest emotional return to the Nou Camp.
He has been there as a visiting coach before when his Bayern Munich side lost 3-0 in a Champions League semi-final last year and now he faces an equally daunting task with City.
Guardiola’s brilliant start in England which saw him oversee 10 consecutive wins in all competitions has given way to a run of three games without victory.
The Premier League leaders trail Group C pacesetters Barca by two points following a thrilling 3-3 draw at Celtic in their last Champions League outing but Guardiola said he would not settle for another draw. “We have four games left and we need to win two of them, make six points. And we are going to try to win the first points in our next game for sure,” Guardiola said.
The Catalans are unbeaten at the Nou Camp in the Champions League since 2013. They are fourth in La Liga and cruised to a 4-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday, with substitute Lionel Messi scoring on his return from a groin injury that had kept him out for over three weeks. “He will be difficult to stop, I know that from experience,” said City striker Sergio Aguero, Messi’s international teammate with Argentina.
“All we can hope is that he has a bad day and our defence plays the game of its life. It’s that difficult because Leo is the best in the world.” – Reuters