Lionel Messi finds reduced role in PSG’s galaxy of stars – but still shines brighter

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Lionel Messi scored an inspired second goal as Paris Saint-Germain beat Manchester City in Tuesday’s Champions League victory as he opened his goal tally for Mauricio Pochettino’s side

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For 74 minutes, it had been another low-key outing for Lionel messi play in the colors of Paris Saint Germain .

The Argentine had been relatively anonymous, albeit effective, in Tuesday night’s Champions League meeting against Manchester city as he continued the game outside the zone.

As has so often been the case in recent years in Barcelona , Messi had seemed to play a large part of the meeting in a walk before sometimes coming to life in the last third of the field.

His moment of magic was delivered with 16 minutes of normal time remaining; running into the heart of City’s defense after finding space in City’s half of the field, playing a one-two with Kylian Mbappe before drawing home a perfect finish.








Lionel Messi scored his first goal for PSG to help defeat Man City
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Picture:

Getty Images)




It was what everyone expected, the magician’s first goal for his new club and delivered in a typically elegant and emphatic manner.

The Argentinian had a troubled start to life for the Parisians; he missed the first four Ligue 1 games due to a lack of preseason before injuring his knee earlier this month.

This saw him catchy replaced in the league clash against Lyon and knocked out for subsequent domestic matches before the Premier League champions visit.

Tuesday night was only his second full 90 minutes at his new club and before his goal his role was secondary as Mauricio Pochettino’s side had their noses ahead.







Paris Saint-Germain Argentina striker Lionel Messi celebrates his side’s second goal



Messi was involved in the preparation for the goal, but it was Neymar’s failed effort that found Idrissa Gueye in the penalty area and the former Everton midfielder shot at home an impressive finish.

The Argentine’s only other noting acts included an attempted ball strung at Neymar that was intercepted by Kyle Walker and a shot over the bar after being played by Mbappe, who was flagged for offside.

In recent years Messi had run the show at Camp Nou so often that his teammates were always looking for him on the pitch and often handing him a hand when the best option was to continue on their own.





Tuesday evening indicated that this might not be the case in the French capital; it was Mbappe who posed the biggest threat to City’s backline for much of the night, as his pace was the biggest threat on the counterattack.

With Neymar, a functional and combative midfielder and the attacking full-back duo Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes, Messi’s role was not as ubiquitous as in Catalonia.

His attacking partnership with Mbappe and Neymar generated a lot of excitement, with pundits focusing on their possible combinations ahead of the game.

BT Sport expert Owen Hargreaves said ahead of the game: “He’s one of the best leading players to play, Messi, Neymar Mbappe.








Messi was at the heart of the action
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Picture:

REUTERS)




“The top three are out of the ordinary, the rest of the team pfft, they’re going to be under a lot of pressure because they won’t go back.

“City, everyone works for the team, PSG are on paper but City are the best team as a collective.”

His colleague Rio Ferdinand was enthusiastic: “The main thing for me are the three boys in front, it makes your mouth water, we’ve been waiting to see it for a while.”

Tuesday night was the first time the dream forward trio could announce themselves to the world in style as the three completed 90 minutes next to each other for the first time.




Both Neymar and Mbappe were outfitters on the night, with Messi taking the win with his inspired second goal.

Yet at Barcelona the focus had always been on him to score the first game, the winner, to be the centerpiece and to have everything revolve around him.

A somewhat more low-key role in Pochettino’s PSG squad allows him to continue to reserve his energy levels to produce the fatal blows as the opposition tires.

Messi’s first goal for PSG was special and it will undoubtedly be the first of a dozen this season.


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