The Blues midfielder says his manager can offer insights into the Catalans that none of his peers can manage and says his team-mates are ‘curious’ about the clash
Ilkay Gundogan believes Pep Guardiola’s unrivalled insight into Barcelona can help Manchester City stop Lionel Messi and take all three points at Camp Nou.
Guardiola will return to Barca for the second time as a coach when he leads out his City side for Wednesday’s group stage clash.
He won 14 trophies in a four-year spell with Barca between 2008 and 2012, and is widely credited as the key factor in Messi’s rise to the top of world football.
Guardiola was defeated the first time he took on his former club, when his Bayern Munich outfit were beaten 3-0 in the 2015 Champions League semi-final as Messi ran riot in the closing stages.
But Gundogan believes City will be boosted by his detailed knowledge of the club where he made his name as both player and coach.
“It’s a big plus for us because he knows them,” the Germany international told reporters. “He knows the team, the club, the stadium and he knows Messi.
“He also knows the Barcelona way, the Catalan way so he knows everything and he will give us some information that other managers can’t give.
“This is important, definitely. He knows how they play, and how they will want to play. At the end, though, it’s down to our players to do that on the field and carry out what he wants us to do.”
Guardiola has set City a target of six points from their remaining four group games following the 3-3 draw with Celtic last time out, and intends to beat Barca on their own turf.
Gundogan admits this will be City’s toughest assignment yet, but insists he and his team-mates are “curious” rather than scared.
“I think this will be the biggest challenge, yes,” he added. “They will definitely be the best team we will have faced so far. I haven’t played against them before, but we all know that they have world-class players and maybe the world’s best player in Messi.
“Away, it will be especially tough, a challenge, but I can say we are definitely not scared. We are curious and want to have this experience and want to play in this stadium against this team. It will not be a test, but exciting for us.
“It’s about taking your chances, definitely, in the Champions League. The evening games, especially when you play away, you need to have this confidence, this flow and have the courage to play your own game. You can’t afford to make mistakes either because teams like this will punish you. But it’s an experience for us all.
“After the game we will know where we are at this moment and maybe more than against the other opponents we have played so far. It’s a big challenge, but we are ready.”