(WFI) Life without Messi is not the same. Not for Pep Guardiola.
Since the Catalan coach left FC Barcelona in 2012, he has not been able to qualify any of his teams to the Champions League final.
With Messi, Guardiola won the world’s most prestigious trophy at the club level twice; but five years without the Argentine star (including the sabbatical Pep took in 2013) has limited the Manchester City coach to only watching the final match on television.
Pep’s latest years of darkness in the tournament date back to his tenure at Bayern Munich when the Bavarian club failed for three straight years to surpass the semifinal round and was always eliminated by Spanish teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid consecutively).
Then came Guardiola’s first year with City and his record in the Champions League was even worse; he exited the tournament at the round of 16 against Monaco despite starting that tie as the heavy favorite.
Now 12 months after that infamous night in Monte Carlo, City’s loss 3-0 at Liverpool on Tuesday in the quarterfinal first leg has Pep facing the possibility once again that his European campaign is on the verge of an early exit.
Publicly Guardiola is refusing to accept Manchester City is out of the contest ahead of next week’s second leg at the Etihad.
“I don’t have too many regrets or complaints. Nobody believes, but we have another game.
“We see what happens. Of course it is difficult but we believe.
“We have to accept it and now we have [Manchester] United at home and then Liverpool at home.”
Perhaps the debacle at Liverpool is even more painful in a week that was supposed to be full of happiness at City since a victory against United this weekend will make Pep’s team to new champion of the Premier League.
Guardiola is obviously not invincible and Liverpool’s coach, Jürgen Klopp, knows it best. The German manager has beaten Pep seven times, becoming the coach who has defeated him the most times. Klopp has simply won more times against Guardiola than he has lost, in a head-to-head dating back to their time in the Bundesliga.
Before City’s meltdown on the Anfield pitch, the evening already started off badly for Guardiola’s squad. The visitors’ team bus was damaged by Liverpool fans as it arrived at the stadium.
On that episode, Guardiola has said: “Normally when the police know it is going to happen, they tried to avoid it from happening.
“So I did not expect that from the Liverpool side, their people.
“One year ago something happened in Dortmund so we come here to play football and I don’t understand this kind of situation.
“The bus is destroyed but I did not expect a prestigious club like Liverpool doing this kind of thing. It is not Liverpool, it is the people, but hopefully it does not happen again.” added the Catalan manager.
City’s vehicle was heavily damaged but perhaps less than Guardiola’s pride. For him to recover, it is simply going to take something just short of a miracle, one that unfortunately for Pep does not contain two simple words “Lionel Messi”.
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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