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Great expectation. That was the overriding atmosphere at the Ricard Maxenchs press room ahead of Pep Guardiola’s appearance before the media on the day before Manchester City’s meeting with FC Barcelona in the Champions League. For the former Barça player and coach his new club are up against “the best team in the world” and the return to Barcelona and Camp Nou is always “something special.”

Guardiola could not hide his excitement at being “back home”: “I am very happy to be here and I am grateful to all the players who helped me, and whatever happens to them makes me happy.”

On the return to action of Leo Messi, the man described earlier by his counterpart Luis Enrique as the “best current coach in the world” revealed: “It’s always a pleasure to see him play and I am happy he is fit again.”

The present Barça coach and his opposite number at Manchester City were once upon a time team mates at FC Barcelona. “Let’s hope that Luis Enrique stays for a long time at Camp Nou. I always want things to go well for friends,” admitted Guardiola.

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta also made an appearance in the press room. The Argentine was quick to praise one of the man he will be called on to mark on Wednesday, the man from across the Río de la Plata, Uruguayan Luis Suárez. “He is one of the best strikers in modern football. For any defender he is difficult to play against because he is a different kind of striker,” remarked the former Espanyol man. 

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