Lionel Messi says Barcelona are desperate to avenge a ‘hurtful’ defeat to Bayern Munich and insists there can be little room for sentiment as Pep Guardiola returns.
Guardiola, who won 14 trophies during a four-year spell in charge of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, is expected to get a hero’s welcome on his first visit to the Camp Nou in the opposition camp after 15 years at the club as a player and coach.
But while Messi paid tribute to his former boss, he insisted his team-mates would be focused on putting themselves in the driving seat to reach the Champions League final in Berlin on June 6.
“Pep knows us very well and we know what he asks of his players. He was with us for a long time and we had the luck to win many titles and experience important moments,” the four-time World Player of the Year said. “It is normal that there is a homage for what he meant as a coach because he won everything here and gave a lot to the club.
“But once the game starts that will be left to one side and the fans will support the team to try and win as normal.”
Bayern inflicted Barcelona’s heaviest ever European defeat in a 7-0 thrashing at the same semi-final stage of the competition two years ago and Messi says the memory serves as motivation.
“That semi-final hurt us a lot, but a lot of time has passed since,” Messi said.
“We come into the game differently, as do they, and it will be a different tie to that one.”
Barca are seven games away from matching the historic treble of La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey that they won for the only time in the club’s history in Guardiola’s first season in charge.
And Messi said it was the pain of a trophyless season last year, not losing out in his personal duel with Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or that has seen a spike in his performance this season.
“We are feeling very good because of how we are playing in every game. We are calm, going step-by-step and thinking about the next game.
“We know that there is little to go (in the season) and we are very close, but there are still very tough games to play.
“I always said that the most important thing for me are the collective titles.
“Last year we didn’t have the fortune to win any and therefore we are desperate to win this year. The individual prizes come from great years winning titles.”