Pep Guardiola admitted it would have been impossible to control Lionel Messi the entire game after the Argentine helped sink Manchester City in the Champions League.
The six-time World Player of the Year scored his first goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the French side avenged their loss in last season’s semi-finals with a 2-0 group stage victory on Tuesday.
Messi had doubts before the game but proved his fitness with a stunning goal after 74 minutes of a convincing clash at Parc des Princes, adding to Idrissa Gana Gueye’s initial strike.
City boss Guardiola is well aware of the damage Messi can cause to teams following the pair’s successes together for Barcelona, which included two Champions League wins.
“We first dealt with PSG, but we know it is impossible to control Leo for 90 minutes,” Guardiola said.
“He wasn’t very in contact with the ball – of course he was coming back from injury, he needed a little bit of rhythm – but we know very well when he can run and come close to the ball, he’s unstoppable .
“What we’ve done is minimize, as much as possible, those kinds of options and create the chances that we could create and I’m happy with the way we played.
“People can’t deny that we were there. We got here, we made our game, but it’s always a risk when you lose the ball and they can pass, especially with (Marco) Verratti, a exceptional player, extraordinary, and making contact with Neymar and Messi and they can run, it’s difficult.
“We had a very good game, but we should have scored goals and we didn’t. That’s why we lost.”
Guardiola added that he was “in love” with Italian midfielder Verratti, but it was inevitably Messi who received the applause.
Messi’s first goal at PSG was the 673rd of his club career and his seventh against Manchester City in the Champions League, more than any other player, while the Argentine now has seven goals against sides led by Guardiola, also the greatest number of all players.
“I wish him the best,” Guardiola said of his former Camp Nou star. “If he’s happy and takes advantage of this time in Paris, I’ll be happy.”
Premier League champions Manchester City will have to stand up for their Super sunday trip to league leaders Liverpool – live Sky Sports Premier League.
Guardiola confirmed that recovery from Tuesday’s match in Paris would begin immediately, adding: “Now we are going to eat well tonight, we are going to have a glass of wine, recover and then prepare for the game. [at Liverpool] on Sunday.”