Facing Messi will be like taking on his child for Guardiola – Illgner

The ex-Real Madrid shot stopper thinks the Bayern coach awaits an emotional return to Camp Nou on Wednesday and has hailed Barcelona’s attacking prowess

Former West Germany goalkeeper Bodo Illgner believes taking on Lionel Messi in Wednesday’s Champions League encounter against Barcelona will be an emotional experience for Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola.

The 44-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful spell in charge of the Catalans between 2008 and 2012, with the Argentine forward as one of his undisputed stars at Camp Nou.

Messi claimed on Tuesday that he no longer has a special relationship with his former mentor, yet Illgner has little doubt that it will be an emotional match for Guardiola.

“Guardiola is still highly respected in Spain and people definitely don’t see him as the enemy,” Illgner told AZ.

“Of course, they do see him as a rival because Bayern Munich are always Champions League contenders.

“Taking on Barcelona will be emotional for Pep. He has built this team. Messi in particular has developed a lot under him. It will almost be like taking on family for him, like playing against your child.”

Iilgner then went on to stress that Barcelona have become a force to be reckoned with again this term after a trophyless 2013-14 campaign and has hailed their attacking partnership of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

“Barcelona are nearly as strong again as they were under Guardiola. The difference is that they are much more direct now and can also hit opponents on the counterattack. It’s no longer all about possession.

“Their three attackers are their main asset. Messi, Suarez and Neymar have already scored 108 goals. That says it all really.”