Lionel Messi is the best footballer ever, according to Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola.
The Argentine superstar scored twice and provided an assist for Neymar’s third goal as Barcelona inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Bayern in their Champions League last four first-leg tie last week.
“He is the best player of all time,” Guardiola said on Tuesday, after the five-time winners were eliminated 3-5 on aggregate in front of their home crowd. “I compare him with Pele. I am so happy to see this football.”
The four-time World Footballer of the Year was again at his best on Tuesday, retreating into a deeper role to unleash Neymar and Luis Suarez on the offensive with his pin-point passes, as Barca advanced into their eighth Champions League final.
“He is back, he is there where I had the privilege to train him,” Guardiola, who twice won the Champions League with the 27-year-old in his four years at Camp Nou, told reporters. “He is definitely back at his best.”
Messi has scored ten times in Europe this season and has also notched up 40 goals in the La Liga where the Baulgranas are four points clear at the top of the table with two more games left.
Barcelona are through to the European Cup final for a fourth time in ten seasons. The Spanish giants, who are chasing a treble of titles, will face the winner of the second semi-final between Real Madrid and Juventus in the final billed for Berlin’s Olympiastadion on 6 June.
“When Barca have the ball they are extremely strong. I hope in Berlin they can win the fifth European Cup,” Guardiol continued.
“We tried everything. But we had a lot of problems (with injuries) and when you play with so many problems for two months and the players keep charging forward then the team deserves a big compliment.”
Bayern were without wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery plus defenders David Alaba and Holger Badstuber but, despite a 2-1 deficit in the first half, they responded with two second-half goals and avoided a first home loss in the competition this season.
Nevertheless, elimination means Bayern will end the season with one title- the Bundesliga- and the former Bareclona player has yet to reach the Champions League final in his first two seasons in Bavaria.
“The Bayern players sometimes do not know how good they are. Now I want to celebrate our title, go on holiday and hopefully we can play better next season,” Guardiola said. “We had a lot of problems and it was good to try to overcome these problems and I think we did not give up.
“It is more important what we did this year compared to last (when Bayern won the double). But a big team must fall this way. It must fall the way we lost today.”