It was one of the most successful player-manager relationships of the modern era.
Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi won 14 trophies together at Barcelona during a four-year period and the pair have been dominant forces in European football for more than a decade.
Since parting ways when Guardiola left the Catalan club in 2012, no player has scored more goals against his teams in the Champions League than Messi.
Their longstanding relationship and Messi’s enduring brilliance helps explain why Guardiola tried to sign Messi in the summer. The Argentine instead ended up at Paris St-Germain and will face his former manager in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Transformation under Guardiola from day one
Barcelona’s current struggles under Ronald Koeman are a long way from the glory years under the Catalan side’s previous coaches, most notably Guardiola and his fruitful link-up with Messi.
Guardiola was promoted from boss of Barca’s B team into the top job for the first team at the start of the 2008-09 season and the campaign was an unprecedented success, resulting in a Treble of trophies.
Messi scored 38 goals that term and he netted a total of 211 goals under Guardiola, including an incredible 73 in just 60 matches in 2011-12, the Spaniard’s final season in charge.
Together the pair lifted three La Ligas, two Champions League titles – beating Manchester United in both finals – two Copas del Rey, as well as three Spanish Super Cups and two each of the Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup.
“Pep immediately transmitted an enormous amount of pride in our work, ambition and hunger,” Messi said.
“He won our confidence from the first day because we could see that things were being done correctly and then, when results started to flow, the confidence grew with them.”