November 4, 2021 || 8:19 pm

Spectre of Messi hangs over same old PSG

It’s from Wedn’esday night’s Champions League gro’up-stage game with RB Leipzig, in which Mauricio Poch’ettino‘s side were held to a dra’w by a late Dominik Szoboszlai equaliser.

In the clip, Mo’hamed Simakan advance’s up the pitch with the ball.

Angel Di Maria is tr’ying in vain to conduct some sort of aggressive press, tearing afte’r the ball after it gets funnelled acr’oss the pitch.

It’s then that Neym’ar comes into focus.

The Brazilian is ‘bending down to adjust his boot, sta’nding stock still and letting Simakan :slide a ball freely into midfie:ld.




Neymar‘s path’etic effort to block the pass via an ou’tstretched leg shows how muc’h he is bothered about contribu’ting defensively to his team.

Kylian Mbappe doe’sn’t escape blame fro’m this h’orror show either, mean’dering around in a central positi’on doing precisely nothing to stop Leip’zig from playing.

And all this is wit’hout Lionel Messi – hard’ly the world’s best presser eith’er – not even on the pitch.

Poor old Pochet’tino.

This is a coach wh’o was famed for making his o’ld Tottenham Hotspur team run thr’ough brick walls, hassling an’d suffocating the opposition wh’en they had the ball.

Does he ask his sta’rs to press? Do they not list’en? Is’ he made to play them in fea’r of a riot from upstairs if he doesn”t?

Whatever the case, it loo’ks like the Argentinian is caught betw’een two stones.

PSG and Pochet’tino’s dilemma

He can’t play the way he wa’nts to with these forwar’ds, yet he can’t drop them beca’use of who they are.

And it’s harming his tea’m.

Their draw last nig’ht in Germany was the latest stu’mble on a season increasingly ful’l of them.

A draw with Marseil’le in Le Classique, a Ligu’e 1 loss to Rennes, and further bac’k a defeat to Lille in the Trophe’e des Champions are results that’ ha’ve spread some doubt among the squ’ad.


And their Champ’ions League hopes aren’t exactly rosy eit’her.

PSG travel to Manc’hester City on their next match’day, and if they lose there – an’d Club Brugge beat Leipzig – the’re will be an unexpected show’down between the Parisians an’d Brugge on the final matchd’ay to decide who takes the secon’d qualification spot.


Hanging over all this is the sp’ectre of Messi.

The little maestro has be’en anything but his us’ual self this season so far, look’ing as lost on the pitch as he ‘admits he has felt off it.

The culture shock of mo’ving to Paris has seemed to ha’ve affected the 34-year-old and his fam’ily more than he expec’ted, and it is a far cry from the rela’tively quiet life he lived in Cast’eldefells, just south of Barcelona an”d a short drive from his old train’ing ground.


It’s clear Messi is alrea’dy having second thoughts abo’ut his move, and the longer he is’ in an unhappy frame of mind, the long’er his performances – and th’ose of the team – will suffer.

Injuries haven’t help’ed, but perhaps those are sy’mbolic of a man tense about his ‘life, and his next move.

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