Barcelona legend Xavi has revealed how Pep Guardiola masterminded one of the biggest El Clasico victories in recent memory after his Manchester City title triumph.
The former Blaugrana boss has led City to a third Premier League trophy in seven seasons after bitter city rivals Manchester United fell to a shock home loss to relegation-threatened West Brom, and has been praised by plenty of ex-players and the media alike for his side's performances in their march to the league crown.
Speaking to the Daily Mail about Guardiola's four-year spell in charge of the club he played for, Xavi explained that the Spaniard's ability to tweak his match plans during play set him aside as a genius - and revealed how the 6-2 drubbing of bitter La Liga rivals Real Madrid showed that in spades.
Gap between 1st and 2nd in Scotland: 13 points— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 15, 2018
Gap between 1st and 2nd in France: 14 points
Gap between 1st and 2nd in England: 16 points
Pep Guardiola and his #SharkTeam have done something remarkable in "the world's most competitive league". pic.twitter.com/9gUYTxt00v
The veteran midfielder said: "That was the game that he played Messi as the false nine. He knew that Madrid's centre-backs wouldn't come out to press Messi when he dropped off so that meant Messi, myself and [Andres] Iniesta would always have a two against three in midfield.
"He kept telling us 'that's where the game is, that's where the game is!' and we won."
Guardiola has gone on to win 23 trophies during his first decade in management, with cups and league titles won in Spain, Germany and now England.
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Xavi went on to add that there were significant doubts about the 47-year-old's ability to coach at the highest level when he was appointed Barca manager in 2008, but that Guardiola has proven everyone one wrong since.
He said: "The doubts were there when he started at Barcelona. I remember we started his first season with a defeat and a draw.
"But even in those early games I would say to my close friends and family, 'if you could only see the way we are training, we are going to win trophies'.
"Pep was a bit nervous! He was playing for his future, after all but things turned out perfectly because we won everything and it wasn't just that we won everything, it was the way we did it."