Dunphy backtracks after damning claim against Messi

Messi in sparkling form to see of Guardiola's Man City
Messi in sparkling form to see of Guardiola's Man City

Eamon Dunphy was forced to backtrack on the RTE panel after he suggested Barcelona and Lionel Messi were a "in decline" half way through their game against Manchester City at the Nou Camp.

A Messi goal had given Barca a half-time lead against a City side managed by their former manager Pep Guardiola, yet Dunphy was not impressed by the display of their star men Messi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets as he suggested their glory days were coming to an end.

“I think this Manchester City project is still being built and they have a lot of players in it at the moment that won’t be in it when it is finished.

“When he has finished building, there will be no Kolarov and a few others as well will be on the way out. Tonight he has been frankly foolish to leave Aguero out and play De Bruyne up front.

“I think the Barcelona project is in serious decline. I don’t think they are the team they were. Iniesta is 32, Busquets is having a really bad time.

"Also, I think Messi is beginning to show signs of decline.

“The great Barcelona side in our memory from not so long ago would have ripped this Manchester City side to shreds, but they are not there. They don’t have those players any more in that kind of form.

“These are two teams who are not what they could be. Barcelona what they have been and City what they could be in the future.”

However, Dunphy was forced to smile and backtrack at the end of the game, as Barcelona turned on the style in the second half to pull off an emphatic 4-0 victory, with Messi scoring a hat-trick.

“I would like to confirm that Lionel Messi is not in quite as much decline as I suggested,” said the pundit with a smile.

It is not the first time Dunphy has backtracked on an opinion, with his infamous suggestions that Cristiano Ronaldo was a ‘nothing player’ and ‘little more than a brat’ undermined by the brilliant performances of the Portuguese superstar in a Real Madrid shirt.

At least Eamon was honest enough to admit when he gets it wrong and on the evidence of his display against City, Messi and Barcelona are a long way from being a spent force in the game.

Yet he was unforgiving as he summed up the City display, as he suggested the 'cult around Pep Guardiola' will be exposed in Manchester.

"They were a shapeless shambles," said Dunphy of City.

"Barcelona weren't anything like they can be but they took advantage of the shambles.

"The story of the night is the humiliation of Pep. The way his team performed, Stones, Sterling - I didn't see Sterling all night, Kolarov, Otamendi, he can't run. Nolito? He is useless.

"I think there is a cult around Pep Guardiola, I have said it before."