Pep marvels at Messi on Camp Nou return

The Bayern Munich boss continued his brief trip to Spain by watching his former club play in Europe

Pep Guardiola made his first return to Camp Nou on Wednesday night after a near three-year absence and admitted it felt “really good” to watch his old club Barcelona take on Manchester City in the Champions League.

Guardiola opted against renewing his contract at Barca towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign after a trophy-laden spell at the club with whom he made his name as a player.

Having claimed three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two Fifa Club World Cups and two Champions League crowns as coach, he cited fatigue for his decision to walk away.

After a year-long sabbatical in New York, he returned as boss of Bayern Munich for the start of the 2013/14 campaign and was quick to maintain the Bavarian club’s dominance of German football.

Bayern have never been drawn against Barca during that time, denying Guardiola the chance to go back.

He was present on Wednesday, however, to see Barca’s last-16 second leg against the English champions. The 44-year-old was captured by television cameras sitting in the stand with his father and personal assistant, former Spanish water polo player Manel Estiarte.

At half-time he gave his assessment of the opening 45 minutes to Catalunya Radio: “[Lionel] Messi is very good, very good. It’s a real luxury to watch him. The Barca players are very good and they are having a great season. They have played well and created a lot of chances. Let’s see what the draw brings.”

“It’s a great game we are watching. I hadn’t been back here for a while and I feel really good to be watching the game in the stands. It’s very special.”

Barca went on to win the game 1-0 to advance 3-1 on aggregate. 

On Tuesday night, he was at the Vicente Calderon to witness Atletico Madrid’s penalty shoot-out win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern are already through to the quarter-finals after a 7-0 aggregate victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

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