'It's fair to compare him to Maradona'

One name stood out after FC Barcelona's win over VfB Stuttgart as Christian Gross likened that man Lionel Messi to Diego Maradona and Josep Guardiola called him "simply the best".

Franz Beckenbauer hopes FC Bayern München can avoid a repeat of their 1999 nightmare against Manchester United FC in a tie where he believes Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben could be key.

Josep Guardiola hailed his FC Barcelona side's "great intensity", VfB Stuttgart's Christian Gross their exhilarating pace, but in the end one man dominated both coaches' thoughts – Lionel Messi. After Messi scored two and set up another goal in the 4-0 win at the Camp Nou, Gross compared the 22-year-old to Diego Maradona while Guardiola called him "simply the best".

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
We took to the pitch with great intensity and were aggressive in our approach; we never allowed any time to think. Physically we are a small side but with the backing of our supporters we feel so big. My intention [with Zlatan Ibrahimović] is to get the absolute best out of him; he took my decision to put him among the substitutes well.

I was delighted with Thierry Henry after the weekend win against Valencia [CF]; he is at his best when he's on the wing but I still want more from him. He played well today [in a more central role] but I want more aggression in front of goal. [Messi] is simply the best. Every team in the quarter-finals is strong and when we get there we'll have to produce two excellent games in order to advance.

Christian Gross, Stuttgart coach
We were missing the bravery which served us so well three weeks ago. With a better defensive performance we could have neutralised their midfield and given ourselves a chance. They were playing in front of their supporters and they are so strong, both individually and collectively. Maybe the fact Real Madrid were eliminated gave Barcelona extra motivation.

Our chances [of going through] were always limited. They started coming at us so quickly and we tried our best to stay with the pace. [Messi] is the best player in the world; he's a fantastic talent and it's incredible to think he's only 22. It's fair to compare him to Maradona.

Top