Still a long way to go before Messi and co shine for PSG
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[September 17, 2021]
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - 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 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
They only managed four shots -- two on target -- and their lack of
defensive work left the midfield and defence 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
Surprisingly, Pochettino did not even play the trio together in
Tuesday's training session on the eve of their Group A opener against
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.
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Paris St Germain's Ander Herrera celebrates scoring their first goal
with Lionel Messi REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
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 organisation 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
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)
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