Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has expressed his big admiration for FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi ahead of their 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League duel.
The Argentina captain is playing against the Bavarians in a match which could however condemn the Catalans to a season without titles.
The sides meet in a one-legged quarter-final on Friday.
“I have a lot of respect for this player. He has something that possibly no one else on this planet has. He can decide a game on his own,” Rummenigge told reporters.
“He’s a player that you have to watch closely and from whom you also have to take some of the fun out of the game.
“He’s a player who wants to have fun with football. If you take a little of that fun away from him by trying to take him out of the game tactically, then there is a good chance for Bayern Munich,’’ the former Germany captain said.
Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona have each won the elite event five times.
They are the only ex-champions in the eight-team field for the Lisbon mini-tournament, which was to open later Wednesday and runs until Aug. 23.
Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka said the only way to stop Messi is “collectively.”
“Everyone knows what a gifted footballer he is. He is capable of finding many solutions also in tight situations. We will have to fight back as a team,” Goretzka said.
“Whether you can actually take away his fun in the game, I don’t know.”
Messi has not much fun this season as Barca had to settle for second in the league behind arch rivals Real Madrid and they also did not make it to the Spanish Cup final.
“Everything has been bad since January,” Messi said, adding that Barca had been “an inconsistent, bad team.”
Barca appear more dependent on the now 33-year-old than ever before, as shown in the 3-1 last 16 win over Napoli where he scored one goal and set up another.
Neither Ernesto Valverde and his successor Quique Setien have been accepted as a leading coach by the club’s stars.
There is also unrest at the top of the club around the upcoming presidential elections.
Expensive signings over recent years such as Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have struggled, and Antoine Griezmann is also yet to show his full potential at Barca.
That leaves only Messi, who has been at the centre of transfer gossip that he could leave for Inter Milan next year.
He now wants to win the event he has scored 115 goals in for the fifth time.
“Anything is possible with this Messi” a sports newspaper said.