Messi Left To Pick Up Pieces At PSG After Jeers And Champions League Failure

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi looks on prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

 

A season that started with such feverish excitement is turning out to be nothing short of a fiasco in Paris for Lionel Messi, who suffered the ignominy of being booed by his own supporters last weekend.

Unhappy Paris Saint-Germain fans targeted the Argentine as well as Neymar during the 3-0 win over Bordeaux that followed the club’s spectacular Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid.

“We understand their disappointment, their feeling of hatred,” admitted PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe.

Adored in Barcelona, from where he made a tearful exit last August, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner suddenly found himself in a position he had never previously experienced during his remarkable club career.

The 34-year-old still has 10 games left with PSG this season, including Sunday’s trip to Monaco, but he could be forgiven for wishing the campaign were already over.

In some respects it is, given PSG have again failed to win the Champions League.

When Messi was unveiled at the Parc des Princes at the start of the season he admitted winning another European Cup was his “dream” and said he felt he was in the “ideal place” to do it.

It was not to be, at least this season, and Messi will be 35 by the time the next campaign begins. Instead all he can look forward to for now is winning the Ligue 1 title.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team are currently 15 points clear of Marseille and Nice, and surely PSG cannot throw that advantage away.

In any case, reclaiming the domestic title will be a very hollow victory for a club who enjoy such an enormous financial advantage over their rivals — Messi’s salary alone is reported to be around 30 million euros ($33.4m) net in his first season in Paris.

The player who is arguably the best of all time has failed to come remotely close to the form he produced so regularly in Barcelona.

He has just seven goals in all competitions this season, only two of which have come in Ligue 1 — in contrast he scored at least 31 goals in each of his last 13 seasons at the Camp Nou.

A campaign that started late due to his lack of a pre-season was also interrupted in the middle when he tested positive for Covid-19 during a trip back to Argentina.

Messi has therefore missed significant chunks, and the flashes of his genius have been too fleeting.

There has already been speculation in France that he could seek a move away from Paris, but for now he must try to focus on what is left of the season and the remaining games alongside Kylian Mbappe before the France superstar’s expected departure for Real Madrid.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kicks the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

Player to watch: Jose FonteAt 38, the veteran Portuguese defender deserves to be singled out for praise. Despite his advancing years, he is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of every Ligue 1 game this season, 28 matches into the campaign.

Indeed Fonte — a standout in the Lille team that won the title last season — has played every minute of his club’s 39 matches in all competitions, including on their run to the Champions League last 16.

Key stats50 – Mauricio Pochettino is set for his 50th Ligue 1 game in charge of PSG.

7 – The number of points separating reigning champions Lille from the Champions League qualifying places. They were knocked out of this season’s Champions League in midweek by Chelsea.

6 – Six-time French champions Bordeaux have not won any of their last six games and prop up the table, five points away from outright safety.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Troyes (2000)

Saturday

Lens v Clermont (1600), Nantes v Lille (2000)

Sunday

Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain (1200), Angers v Brest, Bordeaux v Montpellier, Lorient v Strasbourg, Rennes v Metz (all 1400), Reims v Lyon (1605), Marseille v Nice (1945)

Fans Boo Messi And PSG Stars Despite Win Over Bordeaux

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain beat Ligue 1 strugglers Bordeaux 3-0 on Sunday amid incessant whistles directed at stars including Lionel Messi and Neymar from home fans furious at another European exit.

Amid a gloomy atmosphere in the French capital, only Kylian Mbappe, who scored both goals in the last-16 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, escaped the wrath of the fans.

On Sunday, Mbappe was again on target, scoring the opening goal after 24 minutes with Neymar and Leandro Paredes adding two more in the second half.

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The Parisians hold a 15-point lead on second-placed Nice and are on track to equal Saint-Etienne’s record of 10 French titles, but the frustration of their home fans spilled over.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi was booed as never before in his career, even in the rare bad times with Argentina, and whistled at every touch of the ball.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino said the players had greeted the hostility “with sadness”.

“No-one who loves PSG, its colours, and who feels the frustration of elimination, can experience it in any other way.

“Sadness. I think that’s the right word. The sadness of experiencing an afternoon like this here at the Parc des Princes.

“Messi and Neymar? We are all affected, we understand the disappointment and frustration, which we also share. But we are responsible. We only have to assume it as a team and we will be united until the end.”

Ligue 1 is Pochettino’s side’s only objective this season.

“We are satisfied with the performance of the team in difficult circumstances, the team responded, with a professional performance, with a 3-0,” added the Argentine.

Mbappe blasted in the first goal from Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass cross in a move also involving Messi. It was the World Cup winner’s 15th goal of the season in Ligue 1.

Neymar added a second seven minutes after the break with Messi again sending through for Achraf Hakimi who teed up the Brazilian to finish off.

Leandro Paredes got on the scoresheet for the first time this season after an hour blasting the ball into the top of the net.

Bordeaux have lost seven of their ten away games this season, and sit bottom of the table.

Lionel Messi Tests Positive For COVID-19

FILES) This file photo taken on December 7, 2021 shows Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021.  AFP

 

Lionel Messi has tested positive for Covid-19 and entered self-isolation, his club Paris Saint-Germain announced on Sunday.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was one of four PSG players to test positive for the virus ahead of a French Cup match against Vannes.

Messi tested positive while on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina.

“He is constantly in contact with our medical service. When he is negative, he will be able to return to France,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino told a press conference.

The Argentinian star has endured a difficult start to life in the French capital since an emotional exit from Barcelona last summer.

READ ALSO: Mbappe Not Affected By Uncertain Future, Says Pochettino

Messi has scored only one goal in 11 league appearances for PSG, although he has netted five times in the Champions League.

He will miss Monday’s cup tie and Pochettino said he did not know if he would also be sidelined for PSG’s first Ligue 1 match since the winter break, at Lyon next Sunday.

The other players to test positive were full-back Juan Bernat, back-up goalkeeper Sergio Rico and teenage midfielder Nathan Bitumazala.

“They are currently respecting isolation and are subject to the appropriate health protocols,” PSG said.

Pochettino added: “We have been living with the virus for almost two years, everyone knows what to do in order not to be infected. But we can still catch it, there are things we cannot control.”

Bernat tested positive after reporting for training.

“This is the risk with which we live, on a global scale,” said Pochettino. “In football, contact is inevitable, we share the dressing room.

“The risk of contamination is there, but we take all the necessary measures to try to prevent a player from infecting others.”

The number of Covid cases in France has topped 200,000 a day this week.

PSG also said that Neymar, who suffered an ankle injury in November, is continuing treatment in his native Brazil.

“He is still scheduled to return to training in about three weeks,” the club said.

AFP

Mbappe And Messi Double Up In PSG Victory

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain rounded out their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 thumping of Club Brugge on Tuesday.

Mbappe scored twice in the first seven minutes, the second-fastest double at the start of a game in Champions League history, before setting up Messi to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Mats Rits got one back for the Belgians in the second half but Messi then netted a penalty to make it 4-1 and give PSG a welcome confidence boost in an underwhelming European campaign to date.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side knew before this game that they were heading through to the last 16 in second place in Group A behind Manchester City after losing 2-1 in England last month.

That means a theoretically harder tie against a group winner awaits them in next Monday’s draw, with Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Manchester United already potential opponents.

However, with Mbappe on this kind of form and Messi saving his best for Europe, there is still plenty of reason for optimism for Pochettino, who should also have Neymar back from his latest ankle injury by the time the knockout phase begins in February.

Mbappe needed just 73 seconds to open the scoring, following up to finish low into the far corner after Simon Mignolet had saved from Nuno Mendes.

– Mbappe in a hurry –

The France World Cup-winning forward netted again in the seventh minute, showing great technique to volley in from Angel Di Maria’s assist for his 11th goal this season.

The only player to score two quicker goals at the start of a Champions League match is Rodrygo, for Real Madrid against Galatasaray in 2019.

Mbappe, who doesn’t turn 23 until later this month, is a player in a hurry and he is already onto 30 Champions League goals in his career — at the same age Messi had 25 and Cristiano Ronaldo, now the competition’s all-time top scorer, had eight.

It was a stunning burst of pace from Mbappe on the left that led to PSG’s third goal in the 38th minute as he picked out Messi in the middle and the Argentinian advanced to the edge of the box before scoring with a trademark left-foot finish into the corner.

The visitors pulled one back midway through the second half as Noa Lang set up Rits to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

However, with RB Leipzig beating Manchester City 2-1 in the other Group A game, Club Brugge were condemned to finishing bottom and missing out on a consolation Europa League spot.

Messi then made it 4-1 for the Ligue 1 leaders in the 76th minute, converting a penalty he had won himself.

While the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has managed just one Ligue 1 goal in nine appearances since moving to France in August, he now has five in five Champions League appearances for PSG.

Messi moves onto 125 career goals in the Champions League, a tally bettered only by his old rival Ronaldo, who has 140.

Messi Shows Off Ballon d’Or To Supporters

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi presents his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi showed off his latest Ballon d’Or to Paris Saint-Germain supporters on Wednesday but the Argentinian had a quiet night as the Ligue 1 leaders were held to a 0-0 draw by Nice at the Parc des Princes.

The 34-year-old had been a pre-match doubt having reportedly picked up a stomach bug after going out to celebrate being named the best player in the world for the seventh time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday.

However, he started against Nice in a PSG side missing Neymar, who is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks with an ankle injury, the latest setback in the Brazilian’s time in the French capital.

Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe came closest to finding the net after the break for PSG, who had a huge let-off as Kasper Dolberg hit the post for Nice in the second half when it seemed easier to score.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi poses with his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

“We created chances and I thought we deserved the three points,” insisted PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

“We are improving little by little. We are top of Ligue 1 and through in the Champions League.”

Messi has still managed just one Ligue 1 goal since moving to Paris in August from Barcelona, although he has also netted three times in the Champions League.

Gianluigi Donnarumma also showed off an award pre-match, the Italian displaying the Yashin Trophy he won at the Ballon d’Or gala for being the best goalkeeper of a year in which he starred in his country’s Euro 2020 victory.

He did not have too much to do against a Nice team that defended superbly, although he did make one crucial stop from an Andy Delort header just after the half-hour mark.

“We were very, very well disciplined and I thought the draw was the right result,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier, who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season at PSG’s expense.

France’s Moto GP world champion Fabio Quartararo, who was born in Nice, appeared on the pitch before the match, taking the ceremonial kick-off before shaking hands with Messi and then embracing Mbappe.

 

– Marseille second –

Despite the draw, Pochettino’s PSG side are 12 points clear at the top of the French table from Marseille, who climbed up to second with a 1-0 win at 10-man Nantes as Brazilian midfielder Gerson got their goal with a brilliant finish on the turn on the half-hour mark.

Marseille, who still have a game in hand following the abandonment of their recent match at Lyon, move above Rennes after the Brittany side went down 2-1 at home to defending champions Lille, Renato Sanches scoring what proved to be the winner.

Nice slip to fourth in the table, while fifth-placed Lens drew 2-2 at Clermont.

The big winners of the evening were Strasbourg, who crushed struggling Bordeaux 5-2 and sit sixth in the table, just above Monaco, 3-1 winners at Angers.

Meanwhile, Lyon are languishing in mid-table after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Reims, with Hugo Ekitike scoring an injury-time winner for the away side following a mistake by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Lyon were forced to host the match behind closed doors as a punishment for the incidents in their last home game when Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was struck on the head by a bottle of water thrown from the crowd.

AFP

Messi Taken Off At Half-Time As PSG Narrowly Beat Lille

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) and Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar react during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and LOSC Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar react during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and LOSC Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 29, 2021.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Neymar set up Angel Di Maria to score an 88th-minute winner as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind once again, this time to beat reigning French champions Lille 2-1 on Friday.

With Kylian Mbappe missing and Lionel Messi taken off at half-time, PSG needed captain Marquinhos to equalise in the 74th minute after Jonathan David had given the away side a first-half lead at the Parc des Princes.

Di Maria had set up the equaliser and he then arrived to fire low into the net from Neymar’s lay-off and secure a win that allows PSG to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to a massive 10 points over second-placed Lens before the rest of the weekend’s games.

Nevertheless this was another in a long line of disjointed displays from Mauricio Pochettino’s team and the coach was again left with questions to answer.

READ ALSO: Solskjaer Fights For Man Utd Job As Top Three Flex Muscles

It was the third time in four home league games that PSG have come from behind to score a late winning goal, and here it came against a Lille side who are in mid-table after a poor start to their title defence.

The absence of top-scorer Mbappe due to illness did not help, nor did that of injured playmaker Marco Verratti.

“It is not by chance that the team responded the way they did. It shows the mentality and the character that they have,” Pochettino insisted.

“We want to win in the best possible manner, and by the biggest margin. The truth is that it’s often a struggle but it’s not by chance that we have won 10 league games out of 12.”

Messi’s goal drought

Messi was taken off at the interval and is still without a goal after five appearances in Ligue 1. That record is surely not what anyone expected from him when he arrived in August.

Perhaps he eventually will start scoring for fun in France, but he will go into November still looking to break his duck.

To be fair Messi has been making an impact in the Champions League, with three goals in three appearances in Europe.

His premature substitution here was a precautionary measure ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with RB Leipzig in Germany -– the Argentinian had been struggling with a minor injury during the week.

“We think he will be available for the match against Leipzig,” Pochettino told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

Neymar’s form has also been a source of concern, and the Brazilian still has just one goal to his name this season, and that from a penalty.

Here the world’s most expensive player sometimes cut a frustrated figure and talked his way into a late booking, but that was before he teed up Di Maria for the winner.

Earlier Lille were rewarded for a fine first-half showing with the opening goal just after the half-hour mark.

Burak Yilmaz, who had come close to scoring in the first minute, got to the byline and cut the ball back for Canada striker David to turn it into the net from close range.

Yilmaz was then denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma early in the second half but PSG pushed in search of an equaliser and eventually got it as Di Maria’s chipped ball from the byline was turned in by Marquinhos.

Mauro Icardi, who had replaced Messi at the break, missed a great chance to win it for the home side before Di Maria struck.

Second-placed Lens are in action on Saturday away to Lyon.

Mbappe Takes Centre Stage For PSG In Absence Of Messi, Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the French L1 football match between Stade Brestois and Paris Saint-Germain at Francis-Le Ble Stadium in Brest on August 20, 2021. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi, Neymar and a host of other South American stars are missing for Paris Saint-Germain this weekend but Kylian Mbappe will take centre stage after starring for France in their successful UEFA Nations League campaign.

Messi, along with Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, is with Argentina for their 2022 World Cup qualifier against Peru which was not due to kick off until early on Friday morning, French time.

Neymar and Marquinhos have been with Brazil, due to play Uruguay in a qualifier at the same time.

A third round of South American World Cup qualifiers in quick succession, so close to the weekend, has caused problems for clubs in Europe, where so many leading players are based.

PSG are one of many forced to prepare for matches this weekend without their South American stars, who will not be able to return in time.

“The different federations and FIFA all need to come together so that this type of situation doesn’t happen again,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino when asked about the manic schedule facing his players.

However, he added: “I am not looking for excuses. We have a big squad and it gives a chance to other players.”

Mbappe is available and on a high after scoring two goals and setting up two more as France won the Nations League in Italy.

Mbappe, who scored in the 2018 World Cup final as a teenager, got the decisive goal in last weekend’s final against Spain in Milan.

The 22-year-old’s future remains a subject of much debate with his contract up at the end of this season and Real Madrid waiting in the wings.

READ ALSO: Quicker Vaccinations Key to Pandemic Recovery, Says IMF

“The club will do everything to keep Kylian,” Pochettino told Spanish radio station Cope this week when inevitably pressed on the matter.

“As coach I would love him to stay here for many years to come.”

In Ligue 1 Mbappe has scored four goals this season with PSG already six points clear of Lens at the top of the table despite seeing their perfect start ended in a 2-0 defeat at Rennes two weeks ago.

After Friday’s game they play host to RB Leipzig in the Champions League in what will be their first European outing since beating Manchester City late last month.

Player to watch: Mohamed-Ali Cho

Cho was born in the Paris suburbs and spent time in PSG’s academy, so it will be a special occasion when he comes up against the capital side with Angers this weekend.

Still just 17, winger Cho is a prodigious talent who has already played in 30 top-flight games.

Cho actually spent much of his childhood in England and represented them as a youth international while on the books at Everton.

However, having signed professional terms with Angers, he has broken into the France Under-21 side at the start of this season and looks to have a very exciting future ahead of him.

Key stats

4 – Mbappe has gone four Ligue 1 games without scoring, his longest drought in France’s top flight since May 2018.

190 – The total number of minutes played in Ligue 1 by Messi since he joined PSG.

17 – The number of goals scored by Lille’s Jonathan David in Ligue 1 in 2021. He is fresh from scoring for Canada in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Panama on Wednesday.

Fixtures (kick-offs GMT)

Friday

Paris Saint-Germain v Angers (1900)

Saturday

Clermont v Lille (1500), Lyon v Monaco (1900)

Sunday

Troyes v Nice (1100), Bordeaux v Nantes, Brest v Reims, Metz v Rennes, Strasbourg v Saint-Etienne (all 1300), Montpellier v Lens (1500), Marseille v Lorient (1845)

Messi Scores As PSG Beat Man City 2-0 In Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain’s Senegalese midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (R) celebrates with Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) and Manchester City at The Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on September 28, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

Lionel Messi scored his first goal in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt as they beat visiting Manchester City 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

After Idrissa Gueye put the hosts ahead in the eighth minute, PSG withstood ferocious City pressure before Messi sealed the victory, firing high into the net from a Kylian Mbappe lay-off to score in his fourth appearance for the club since signing from Barcelona last month.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Senegalese midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (R) celebrates with Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) and Manchester City at The Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on September 28, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Again, Injured Messi To Miss Out For PSG 

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match Club Brugge against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, on September 15, 2021. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Lionel Messi will again be sidelined for Paris Saint-Germain for Saturday’s game against Montpellier as he continues to nurse a knee injury, his club said.

PSG said Messi had started running again and that a new update would come on Sunday, raising hope that he will be able to return for the Champions League clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Tuesday.

“Hopefully everything will be ok and he will be back with us,” coach Mauricio Pochettino said at a press conference.

“We hope he can be there. We need to be cautious and see how things evolve in the coming days.”

Messi was taken off in the 76th minute of last weekend’s 2-1 win over Lyon in Ligue 1.

It only emerged later that he was suffering from a knock to a knee and he played no part in Wednesday’s 2-1 league win at Metz.

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Messi has made just three appearances for his new club since arriving from Barcelona in early August, and has completed 90 minutes just once, at Club Brugge in the Champions League.

PSG are looking to make it eight wins out of eight in Ligue 1 this season when they play Montpellier, with Pochettino insisting that is his focus, not the rematch with a City side who knocked them out of the Champions League in the semi-finals last season.

“The important thing is the Montpellier game, trying to win and improve in the aspects we need to improve. Manchester City doesn’t influence it,” said the Argentine.

“We want to keep our run of results going, although of course it can help us prepare for the game on Tuesday.”

Marco Verratti and Sergio Ramos, the close-season signing from Real Madrid, are also still on the sidelines.

AFP

Injured Messi Ruled Out Of Midweek Action With PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Olympique Lyonnais at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on September 19, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

 

Lionel Messi will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s game away to Metz on Wednesday due to a knee injury which coach Mauricio Pochettino has said was the real reason behind his surprise decision to take the six-time Ballon d’Or winner off against Lyon at the weekend.

The Argentine star underwent an MRI on Tuesday after taking a knock to his left knee during Sunday’s 2-1 win. Results showed signs of bone bruising, the club said in a statement.

Messi was replaced by Achraf Hakimi, a full-back, after 76 minutes against Lyon, on his first home appearance as a PSG player since arriving from Barcelona.

The 34-year-old appeared to reject Pochettino’s hand as he walked past his coach towards the Paris bench but the former Tottenham Hotspur boss later defended his decision to take Messi off without mentioning the injury.

On Tuesday he admitted that Messi’s fitness was the reason he made the change with the scores level at the time.

“On the touchline we are always observing the players, seeing what is happening during the match, and we saw that Leo was looking at his knee,” Pochettino told reporters.

“We are pleased with the way he played. He played very well in the first half, and the only thing missing was a goal.

“He played for 76 minutes and with all the information we had we decided to take him off,” added Pochettino, who said he accepted that substituting a player of Messi’s status might surprise observers.

“Of course I understand the situation and I accept it as it is.

– ‘Best thing for him’ –
“It is not a surprise for me, but the priority is always the well-being of the player and in this case we thought it was the best thing for him to take him off.

“All great champions always want to be on the pitch and that is understandable.”

Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time headed goal secured victory for PSG against Lyon, leaving them with six wins out of six in Ligue 1 this season and already five points clear of second-placed Marseille, albeit having played a game more.

They will be expected to keep their run going away to a Metz side who are winless and prop up the division, although Pochettino may heavily rotate his squad.

PSG are at home to Montpellier at the weekend, when it remains to be seen if Messi will return. They then host Manchester City in the Champions League next Tuesday, September 28.

“We have a squad of 35 players. They all deserve to play but there are not enough places,” admitted Pochettino.

The Argentine manager has also come in for criticism for the way his all-star team played against Lyon and in last week’s 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in the Champions League.

Those were the first two matches in which Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had all played together, but Pochettino says he needs time to get his ideas across.

“In general, in the past, in normal times, you had six or seven weeks in pre-season, lots of friendly matches to work on things.

“Now we need to try things as we go along, during games. It is not a situation we like much but we have to get used to it.”

There is a full round of games in France on Wednesday with Marseille aiming to continue their unbeaten start away at Angers.

PSG Kept Waiting For Record-Setting Messi’s Home Bow

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Natacha Pisarenko / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Having scored a hat-trick for Argentina in World Cup qualifying, Lionel Messi will have to wait for his home debut in France, possibly leaving Paris Saint-Germain without their star front three for Saturday’s Ligue 1 match against promoted side Clermont.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino will be deprived of the majority of his South American contingent after their countries played World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.

Messi notched all three goals as Argentina, who also included PSG’s Angel Di Maria in their lineup, beat Bolivia 3-0 barely 36 hours before the Parisians are due to kick off at the Parc des Princes.

The triple strike made Messi the top international goalscorer in South American football history with 79 goals, overtaking Pele.

Neymar will also be absent after scoring in Brazil’s 2-0 victory against Peru.

The third member of the attacking trio, Kylian Mbappe, is still an injury doubt after leaving the France camp with a calf injury he suffered in their first qualifier of the international break against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

All three are however expected to be ready in time for PSG’s Champions League opener at Club Brugge on Wednesday.

The 2020 Champions League runners-up will be judged this season on their performances in the European competition, which they have never won despite the substantial injection of funds from their Qatari owners.

Expectations are even higher than usual after a transfer window in which Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma all joined the club.

There could be a debut against Clermont for Portugal full-back Nuno Mendes, the lowest-profile of the summer arrivals.

But the 19-year-old impressed in Sporting Lisbon’s title-winning team last term and could prove a bargain after joining PSG on a season-long loan for a reported seven million euros ($8.3 million), with an option to buy for 40 million euros.

“It’s a moment of great pride for me to have signed here among all these great players,” Nuno Mendes, who has won eight international caps, told PSG’s website. “I think it’s every player’s dream to play alongside them.

“I think it’s important for me to stay calm, to do what I do best.”

PSG are stronger favourites to win Ligue 1 than ever before — although Lille wrested the title from them last season — and their expensively assembled team already sit top after four wins from as many matches.

– Suspension-hit Marseille visit Monaco –
Marseille hit out at the French league (LFP) on Thursday, arguing that the punishment given to Nice for their fans’ behaviour during a suspended match between the two teams last month was too lenient.

Nice will have to play three games behind closed doors and had two points deducted, albeit one suspended, after fans invaded the Allianz Riviera pitch when Dimitri Payet threw a bottle which had been launched at him back into the crowd.

Payet has been given a one-match ban, with Alvaro Gonzalez handed a two-game suspension.

The match, which Nice led 1-0 with 15 minutes remaining, will be replayed.

“The club regrets that any invasion of the pitch affecting the safety and health of players is not sanctioned immediately and more firmly,” Marseille said in a statement.

Marseille, who now sit one point ahead of Nice with seven points from three games, face Monaco in the principality on Saturday.

Nice, backed by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, visit Nantes on Sunday.

Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri– The Switzerland forward could make his debut for Lyon on Sunday against Strasbourg after joining from Liverpool for an initial fee of six million euros.

Lyon will be hoping he can fill the boots of Memphis Depay after the Dutchman’s fine start to life with Barcelona.

The 29-year-old Shaqiri will be hoping to become a key player for Lyon, after often finding himself on the periphery at Anfield and during spells at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

Key statsSix – Amount of teams still unbeaten in Ligue 1 this season. There are also six teams still winless.

Seven – Goals scored by Clermont in the first three Ligue 1 games in their history.

10 – Assists made by PSG’s new full-back Hakimi since the start of last season.

Fixtures (times GMT)Friday

Lorient v Lille (1900)

Saturday

Paris Saint-Germain v Clermont (1500), Monaco v Marseille (1900)

Sunday

Montpellier v Saint-Etienne (1100), Bordeaux v Lens, Brest v Angers, Metz v Troyes, Rennes v Reims (all 1300), Nantes v Nice (1500), Lyon v Strasbourg (1845)

Messi Breaks Pele Goalscoring Record

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul (R) hold the Copa America trophy while posing for a picture at the end of their South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 against Bolivia at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Juan Ignacio RONCORONI / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored a hat trick to break Pele’s record and become the leading international goalscorer in the history of South American football on Thursday.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward opened the scoring for Argentina in their World Cup qualifier against Bolivia at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires to tie Pele’s mark of 77 international goals.

The 34-year-old then struck his 78th international goal on 64 minutes to give Argentina a 2-0 lead.

 

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Bolivia during the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Natacha Pisarenko / POOL / AFP)

 

Messi’s double came in his 153rd appearance for Argentina.

The former Barcelona star’s great rival Cristiano Ronaldo holds the outright record for goals scored in international football with 111 from 180 games.

 

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Natacha Pisarenko / POOL / AFP)

 

Thursday’s match in Buenos Aires comes four days after Argentina’s game against Brazil on Sunday was suspended due to a Covid-19 controversy.