For him, this is the first goal of the rest of his life. This goal, Lionel Messi has already scored. It is a facsimile of so many others. Almost at a standstill and indifferent to events, he starts from his right side, changes his pace suddenly, dribbles, leans on a partner (Kylian Mbappé) before landing a surgical strike with his left foot (pleonasm). Except that this goal will forever be the first under the jersey of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) with this number 30 which is a bit of a substitute at the end of the bench.
History will therefore remember that the first emotion between the Parc des Princes and its unexpected summer recruit was recorded on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at the 74e minute on the second day of the Champions League against Manchester City of Pep Guardiola. At 2-0, Messi folds a meeting so far from being in the bag for his team. The moment filters a little with unreal at the moment when the “Thank you Messi”.
AND HERE’S THE MESSI! 🙌 The Argentinian superstar scores his first goal under the colors of #PSG thanks to this superb… https://t.co/hAm1pbv1nE
At 34 and after two decades at Barcelona, Leo Messi is a PSG player. We don’t pinch each other anymore. The honeymoon may well begin after a tentative start between a late arrival and a Copa America victory to digest. “If he is happy in Paris, I would be happy for him, because he made me very happy in Barcelona”, Guardiola told a press conference about the new life of his former protégé.
For Paris, this victory is good. This is the paradox of a club like no other, being under fire from critics despite a clear course in the league (eight wins in eight games). But behind the perfect balance sheet could be seen the inadequacies, the concerns, the moods of some (Mbappé giving ” Hobo “ to Neymar for a pass not given against Montpellier) or this diffuse impression of a team that does not really know who it should be, like this almost happy draw brought back from Bruges (1-1) two weeks earlier.
Guardiola “in love” with Verratti
Against Manchester City, the question does not arise. The opponent knows that the Citizens are not sharing with the ball and force to defend a lot and to live as best they can from a few blocks. PSG painfully experienced it when it was eliminated in the semi-finals last season. This time, Mauricio Pochettino’s players folded again, but without breaking. Call it resilience, realism, or talent. “We knew how to suffer during difficult times, when we were grouped together in front of our goal. We also knew how to play football when we attacked ”, summed up the Parisian coach.
Yes, the Argentine prefers when his team “Has more control of the ball”, but against a “Team with so many automatisms”, we must know how to adapt and respond to this already collectively. At this level, his players have shown character.
A man embodied this combat Paris: Idrissa Gueye. The Senegalese set the tone by cleaning Ederson’s skylight from the 7e minute at the reception of a center of Mbappé redacted by Neymar. But that’s not all. Aggressive in the duels, he recovered balls, plugged gaps and allowed Marco Verratti to evolve in a certain comfort.
At 28, we will not make the Italian comeback after yet another muscle glitch. When he is not prevented by an injury or a suspension, the midfielder makes the game of his team more fluid. It’s always the same story for nine years with him. We are still surprised to see him dribble three opponents in a space as large as a telephone booth or his gazelle modesty when approaching opposing goals. But his evening performance was immense. Something to fall in love with Pep Guardiola: “I’m in love with him. He’s able to do anything, the way he moves, finds players in small spaces. He is exceptional. “
Decisive and vengeful donnaruma
But the emotion of Messi’s first goal and so much praise should not make us forget that Manchester had the best chances. The Mancunians were especially wrong to make Gianluigi Donnarumma shine. They say that luck accompanies great goalkeepers, so the Italian European champion is a very great goalkeeper like this action of the 25e minute. From the head, Raheem Sterling finds the crossbar, Bernardo Silva is rebounding but misses the elephant in a corridor by hitting the bar in his turn.
For the rest, the defector from AC Milan was brilliant and decisive on five Mancunian actions. At 22, the boy already has his character and responded to the Italian press, which speculates on his supposed spleen of number one bis or replacement behind Kaylor Navas (on this subject only Mauricio Pochettino really knows the hierarchy between the two men) . “Critics on my choice to come to Paris? I just want to laugh. I’m happy at PSG and I laugh when I read all this nonsense about me, he commented at the microphone of Sky Sport Italia. It’s amazing to play with all these champions. ”
Incredible perhaps, but a prestigious victory in the group stage is not enough to decree that PSG have found a collective balance, that Messi, Neymar and Mbappé find themselves with their eyes closed and that Mauricio Pochettino really knows where he is going. But let the latter savor this success and the first goal of his famous compatriot: “I saw Leo scoring full from the bench opposite so for once I was on the right bench I could celebrate. ” And the whole Parc des Princes with him.