‘Nobody has been able to stop Messi yet’

The former Barcelona player Oscar Garcia Junyent has had good and bad luck in his second coaching experience at France. Good because on Sunday there will be millions of fans around the world pending the Reims-PSG; and bad because it will surely have in front of Leo Messi, symbol of his beloved Barca.

“Nobody has found the formula or the way to stop it individually,” he flatly acknowledges in an interview with EFE.

Four days after García Junyent’s Reims meet the almighty Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a match on the fourth day of the French League, the Spanish coach has not stopped receiving calls.

Although there is no official confirmation by the club of the French capital, everything indicates that Messi, one of the most famous signings of the last decades, could finally debut with the colors of the PSG, almost 20 days after being officially presented.

In his entire professional career, the 34-year-old footballer has never worn another jacket than the Barcelona’s Barcelona (apart from that of the Argentina team).

As a partner and culé fan, García Junyent has contradictory feelings.

“I would have preferred not to face him, because it meant that he would be at Barca. But for the French League it is a very positive sign that the best in the world or the best in the world in this case can come to this League,” he underlines.

García Junyent (Sabadell, 1973) and Messi have a common past. They have shared a soccer school, La Masía, and a club. The now Reims manager played almost 100 games for Barcelona during the 90s. A certain Johan Cruyff made him debut.

The one from Sabadell already knows what it is to face the six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or. He did so in November 2019 in his debut as Celta de Vigo coach, at the Camp Nou. Barcelona won 4-1. Three of the goals were from Messi.

“It is what happens many times with Messi, I think we played a good game tactically speaking, Barca had almost no chances. But he threw two fouls and scored a penalty, he changed the game with those actions,” he recalls.

And the million dollar question: How to stop it? “Obviously, if you reduce the number of times the ball can be received, then you reduce the chances that it will score a goal or give you an assist, but it is very difficult to score because it moves freely.”

“Logically, if you reduce the number of times the ball can be received, then you reduce the chances of it scoring you or giving you an assist”

“He is a very smart player,” he continues, “who spends the whole game reading what is happening, where he has to position himself to do more damage to the opponent. You can make a tactically perfect game, but he is one of the few that is practically uncontrollable”.


For García Junyent, there has not yet been “a coach who has been able to stop him.” And on the days when it is less successful? “He may have one day because he is human, but when he has a normal day he is far superior to the rest.”

García Junyent’s Reims have scored three draws in as many days (with Nice, Montpellier and Metz), with attacking football, eye-catching for the spectator.

Against PSG he does not want his players to leave too excited, despite the expectation that the match has generated. The Stade Auguste Delaune will be packed with 20,000 spectators. many of them have bought tickets from as far afield as Chile, South Korea and Thailand.

“We have to think that it is one more game, obviously there is a lot of expectation, but the points have the same value against Metz as against PSG. For me and my players it is a challenge to play against the best squad in Europe and I would tell you in the world “, defends García Junyent.

The former coach of Celta, Saint-Etienne, Watford and Red Bull Salzburg, among others, does not want his players to be dazzled.

“I do not know if they will ask Messi for the shirt. If they do, I hope it will be at the end of the game and not during; you have to be focused.”

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