Ex-Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has said that he is “convinced” Pep Guardiola will lift another Champions League trophy to add a third to his overall haul, although the former skipper is not sure whether the Catalan boss will achieve that feat with current side Manchester City.
Seen as one of Barca's all-time greats, Puyol spent his entire professional career at the club, winning Europe's premier club competition three times in total, with two of those coming under Guardiola's tutelage.
The current City boss has not tasted European glory since his Camp Nou days, coming close during his time at Bayern Munich as he reached the semi-finals, but Puyol feels that it is only a matter of time before his old boss makes his mark once again.
“For me, Pep is the best coach I had and the best coach in the world,” the 41-year-old told Goal and SPOX. “You can immediately tell that a team is coached by Pep by the way it plays. That's why I'm convinced he will win that title again.
“I can't say whether it will be with Manchester City, but they will focus a lot on that competition as it is practically impossible to catch Liverpool in the Premier League.”
City fans could be forgiven for feeling confident, however, with the reigning English champions having recorded a 2-1 first-leg victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the round of 16, giving them the edge as they look to book their place in the quarter-finals.
Madrid aren't the only big boys they will have to get past, though, and Pep's old side Bayern were amongst the most convincing sides in the most recent bout of Champions League matches, hammering Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
There are those who doubt the German side's credentials due to their consistent domination of the Bundesliga, but Puyol believes Bayern should be counted amongst the strongest contenders.
“Bayern are always among the favourites,” he said. “They have an experienced team and will certainly be motivated to win that title again. In the knockout stage, the little details are decisive – I know that from my own experience. Whoever is the most focused and stable will progress.”
With European matters on hold at the moment and attentions turning back to domestic action, Puyol weighed in on Sunday's upcoming Clasico encounter at the Bernabeu – a clash that has seen its pre-match build-up dominated mainly by both Barca and Madrid's inconsistent form this campaign.
Similar to many others' opinion, Puyol feels that it is anybody's game, stating: “Barcelona and Madrid always have great teams with extraordinary players. Still, it's correct that they haven't played as consistently as we're used to.
“Both have been eliminated from the Copa del Rey, so there are only two chances left to win a title. The decisive weeks of the season have arrived with the knockout stages in the Champions League, the Clasico and the final stages of La Liga.
“We will see what answers the teams come up with for the challenges that await. Of course, I hope Barca will win it, but at the moment everything is wide open.”