PSG is reassured before the round of 16

Winning doesn’t always mean peace of mind. But this time, Paris has combined substance and form to make short work of Bruges (4-1), Tuesday, December 7, in its last preliminary phase match. The Belgian club could still hope to catch the 3e Group A place synonymous with Europa League. But, in a duel from a distance, the Germans from Leipzig finally beat the leader Manchester City (2-1).

Assured to finish second and to play the eighth before kick-off, the Parisians have not managed to remove all doubts; However, they showed good intentions of the game. Deprived of Neymar, hit in the right ankle against Saint-Etienne on November 28 and unavailable until January 2022, as well as Sergio Ramos – the Spaniard has suffered a calf injury since his arrival in the capital – Mauricio Pochettino’s troops set their own pace from the kick-off.

Mbappé express

Unable to win in Ligue 1 for two games, the teammates of Lionel Messi, aligned from the start, displayed a completely different face than that seen during the last meeting at the Park against Nice, concluded with a pitiful 0-0. Paris unblocked the situation from the kick-off, through Kylian Mbappé. The number 7 opened the brand from the 2e minute before scoring a double with a superb volley from the right into the box (7e), on a caviar by Angel Di Maria, author of his 35e decisive pass in the competition. Mbappé is the youngest player to score 30 goals in the Champions League.

The Bondynois had no time to lose, as on his acceleration along the sideline to drop Hendry from a small bridge before serving Messi in the axis who did not need to be asked to adjust Simon Mignolet with a curled strike from the left (38e).

On the return from the locker room, PSG fell back into its inconstancy in the first quarter of an hour, allowing the people of Bruges to reduce the score (3-1, at the 63e) on Idrissa Gueye’s ball loss in midfield.

But Lionel Messi, to whom the intoxicating scent of Europe succeeds better than the scent of Ligue 1, ended the suspense on a penalty that he himself caused to also afford himself a double, his 4e and 5e goals of the competition. The choice of Kylian Mbappé’s words, at the microphone of Canal +, is not trivial: We wanted to warm up our audience with a full performance. We have to manage our weak times which are sometimes too weak and inadequate with the high level. We have a month and a half to get to the point before the eighths. Mauricio Pochettino, PSG coach, will be able to build on the first period, perhaps the best since the start of the season, with three complementary midfielders (Verratti, Gueye, Wijnaldum).

“I liked our football”

This Paris cuvée 2021 finishes this first round with the lowest total of points (11) since 2012 and its return to the European Cup. But the essential is elsewhere, with a tenth qualification in a row in the European top 16. With or without Pochettino? Rumors are rife on the future of the Parisian technician, a time announced to Manchester United, who finally opted for Ralf Ragnick. “I really liked our football. We played well on some sequences. We try to create a link with these great players , was satisfied the Argentine after the match.

A photo had fueled the rumor Zinedine Zidane as a future Parisian coach. The latter was indeed seen with some of his former team-mates, 1998 world champions, in a selfie posted by Youri Djorkaeff near Place Vendôme.

Mauricio Pochettino has already reached the final of the Champions League, with Tottenham in 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Anyway, Paris will face a group first, and potential opponents are scary: Liverpool or Bayern Munich are on the list. Reason for hope for the Parisians, PSG have already beaten these two clubs in the last two seasons of the Champions League. Paris under the Qatari era, had already finished second in its group. It was in 2014, 2015 and 2016. These three years, PSG had stopped twice at the quarterfinal stadium and once in the eighth, during the unforgettable elimination inflicted by FC Barcelona during the mythical Catalan “remountada” (6-1) in the return leg.

PSG have an appointment in February and March 2022 for the start of the knockout phase. With or without Pochettino.

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