The End of an Era: Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola’s Separate Paths in the Champions League

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Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola: The End of an Era

On Saturday, Pep Guardiola achieved what Lionel Messi could not; he lifted the Champions League trophy. Although both have been apart for over a decade, the main European Cup was the common thread between the two football legends. Messi and Guardiola were partners in the titles of 2009 and 2011, with a team that marked an era. The Champions League will now just be a nostalgic retrospective for Messi after a period of eight years without tasting glory in the competition.

Guardiola and Messi, architects of an unforgettable cycle in Barcelona
Guardiola and Messi, architects of an unforgettable cycle in Barcelona
Alberto Estevez – EFE

The Spell Ends for Guardiola

Guardiola had been chased with the stigma that without Messi, he could not return to the top of Europe. In Bayern, they repeatedly stopped him in three semifinals. In Manchester City, he was close in 2021, falling in the final to Chelsea. The spell broke for the Catalan on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Inter that was more a reward for the coach’s work throughout the season than in a final where he struggled against his rival.

Guardiola: An Unparalleled Visionary

Guardiola has been setting trends in football for 15 years as an influence for countless colleagues. However, his proposals and movements can be taken, but his personality to transmit them is non-transferable. Guardiola’s squads adjust to his needs; he rarely has to “make do with what’s there,” unlike many of his colleagues. In the seven years of the Catalan, Manchester City spent €1,238 million on reinforcements but also sold for €574 million, higher than that of other English teams.

Guardiola, with the tense gesture during the final against Inter
Guardiola, with the tense gesture during the final against Inter
Francisco Seco – AP

The Forward-Thinking Coach

Guardiola, a visionary coach, broke the mold with his play style. In Barcelona, he had the central midfielder going down to get the ball between the two defenders, with the two full-backs well raised. At Bayern Munich, he played the winger Joshua Kimmich as an inside to create numerical superiority. Now, with City, he is molding a team that only conserves Kevin DeBruyne from his first day in office. Guardiola can be classified as enlightened, but he is not a magician to shorten natural processes. His record is impressive with 35 titles in 14 years of practicing the profession, with an average of a title every 23 games.

Rodri, scorer of the winning goal in the final
Rodri, scorer of the winning goal in the final

Guardiola Goes for More

Guardiola put City on an unknown dimension, and his success accentuated his facet of being ironic while answering to the press. Guardiola woke up on Sunday with a congratulatory message from Alex Ferguson, whom he equaled in obtaining the treble (Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League). The Scotsman did it in 1999, where they still haven’t found a replacement for him. Guardiola recognized that it is a relief not to have to listen to questions about winning the Champions League again but another challenge has been set. Guardiola put City in an unknown dimension, and he is going for more. He has a contract until 2025, he never left a day before completing it, and he was never fired, which sets him apart from everyone else.

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