Messi best of all time – Guardiola

Lionel Messi
Barcelona's Argentinean forward Lionel Messi (L) and Bayern Munich's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola stand on the pitch during the UEFA Champions League football match semi final FC Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona in Munich on May 12, 2015. Photo: AFP

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has compared Lionel Messi to Brazil legend Pele as he backed former club Barcelona to win the Champions League.

Messi inspired Barca to a 3-0 first-leg victory that Bayern could not overturn, despite a 3-2 win in the return game.

"He is the best player of all time, I compare him with Pele," said Guardiola, 44. "I hope Barca win their fifth Champions League final."

Barca will play Real Madrid or Juventus in the final in Berlin on 6 June.

Brazil forward Neymar scored twice in the Allianz Arena to give the Spanish league leaders a 5-1 aggregate lead before Bayern fought back to win on the night.

But Guardiola reserved his praise for Argentina skipper Messi, who turned the semi-final in Barca's favour with a late brace at the Nou Camp last week.

Messi has scored 53 goals so far this season after admitting his previous campaign, where he netted 44 times despite injuries and allegations of tax fraud, was "difficult".  

"He is back, he is there where I had the privilege to train him," said Guardiola, who - along with Messi - won 14 trophies in his four seasons in charge at Barcelona between 2008 and 2012. "He is definitely back at his best."

Lionel Messi
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (R) celebrates scoring with Barcelona's Argentinean forward Lionel Messi (L) during the UEFA Champions League football match semi final FC Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona in Munich on May 12, 2015. Photo: AFP

'The treble is our mission'

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is one match closer to winning the treble in his first season in charge at the Catalan club.

They need just one win from their remaining two games to reclaim the La Liga title, play Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final before the Champions League showpiece.

Only in December, Enrique - who played for the club between 1996 and 2004 - was criticised by supporters  following a 0-0 draw against Getafe.

"It's a great achievement to reach the final," said the 45-year-old, who replaced Tata Martino last summer after previously managing Roma and Celta Vigo.

"We're one win away from winning each of the three competitions. This is our mission. This is what it means to be part of Barca.

"I am very satisfied with the performance of my players, the whole team deserved the victory and we have to enjoy this."

Barca 'impossible to stop'

Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm said his team had been confident of becoming only the second team to wipe out a three-goal deficit in the Champions League knockout stage.

Bayern were 3-1 down after the first leg of the quarter-final against Porto, but scored four times in the opening 40 minutes of the return before winning 6-1 to set up the Barca tie.

"We believed in the miracle, but we couldn't make it happen," said Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning captain.

"It's impossible to stop those players for the whole 90 minutes. We didn't lose it today, but in the first leg."


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