Champions League

Still a long way to go before Messi and company shine for PSG


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Still a long way to go before Messi and company shine for PSG

ALL EYES. Lionel Messi makes his Champions League debut for PSG at Club Brugge.

Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Playing together on the field for the first time, the attacking star trio of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe struggled to find each other 

After failing to impress in their first outing together, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe clearly have a long way to go before the most lethal attacking trio in the world, on paper, can produce the goods on the pitch for Paris St Germain.

None of them found the net in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday, September 15, with only Mbappe producing a decent performance, before the France striker limped off injured in the 51st minute after setting up Ander Herrera for the opening goal.

They only managed four shots – two on target – and their lack of defensive work left the midfield and defense exposed, with the trio winning only seven balls between them.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino had warned that it would take time for the new signings to gel, saying PSG were “not a team yet.” He was right.

While Mbappe started his preparation for the new season earlier than expected, after France were surprise last 16 casualties at Euro 2020, Brazil’s Neymar and Argentina’s Messi resumed training only in mid-August having played in the Copa America final on July 10.

The South Americans have lacked rhythm and Messi’s arrival on a two-year deal from Barcelona seems to have disrupted the attacking line’s balance.

Surprisingly, Pochettino did not even play the trio together in Tuesday’s training session on the eve of their Group A opener against Club Brugge.

PSG were without the injured Marco Verratti, whose ability to create a link between the midfield and attack was sorely missed as Herrera lacks the Italian’s technical quality.

The Spaniard was not helped either by a poor performance from Georginio Wijnaldum, who only provided the front three with three balls in the first half while Leandro Paredes struggled to cope with Brugge’s intense pressing.

Former PSG and Barcelona winger Ludovic Giuly, however believes that the attacking trio will shine soon.

“Mauricio Pochettino has the experience and the necessary vision,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“His only problem will be to have the trio defend a minimum. The team will need to know what to do when they lose the ball and be compact. Then they’ll be rolling.”

Pochettino agreed it was a matter of balance, especially if he plays with Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes, who are two attacking fullbacks.

“Like I said, we have a superb squad but we need balance, to find an attacking organization with creativity but stay solid at the back. For that, we need time,” he said.

However, with a Champions League home game against Premier League winners Manchester City in 11 days, time is a luxury that PSG do not have. –

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