Messi, PSG confident for Champions League glory as he prepares for full club debut in Brugge

It is the second we by no means thought would occur. After 149 video games, 120 targets, 41 assists and 4 last wins with Barcelona, Lionel Messi is again within the Champions League for the 18th time, however with one other membership. The well-known UEFA music would be the identical, however that is just about it.

On Wednesday in Belgium, PSG will begin their Argentine maestro for the primary time since his arrival on the membership and for the primary time, Mauricio Pochettino will unleash his star studded entrance three of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

The journey to Club Brugge was all the time thought of by Pochettino and his workers as the sport during which the six-time Ballon d’Or winner ought to make his first begin. Messi performed 25 minutes away at Reims earlier than the worldwide break, with that membership debut broadcasted in 208 international locations world wide and watched by hundreds of thousands. He missed the house recreation in opposition to Clermont on Saturday as a result of late fixtures within the South American World Cup qualifiers and the return to France, so historical past will all the time word that his first begin for Paris got here within the “Venice of the North.”

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It is also an opportunity for Messi to revive his love story with the best membership competitors on the planet. Not solely is it the match during which he is loved a few of his most iconic moments — the clinching objective within the last vs. Manchester United in 2009, the slaloming run-and-goal in opposition to Real Madrid in 2011, man of the match once more within the last vs. Man United that yr — but it surely’s additionally the competitors he is been wanting to win once more, having not lifted the trophy since 2015. The previous half-decade was stuffed with disappointment and heartbreak for Messi and Barcelona; will his quest for a fifth title, stage with long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, be extra profitable in Paris?

In non-public, Messi is alleged to be very enthusiastic about his new crew’s prospects this season. For a begin, it is in all probability the very best squad Messi has performed in for the reason that glory days of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. The previous few seasons, he is been scarred by some big losses: the Liverpool remontada at Anfield, the 8-2 humiliation in opposition to Bayern Munich in Lisbon in 2020, and Mbappe’s masterclass in PSG’s 4-1 win over Messi’s Barcelona at dwelling final season. There might be a lot harder video games than this one — together with the subsequent three group video games, in opposition to Manchester City and RB Leipzig (twice) — however this can be a good approach to begin the marketing campaign. PSG visited Membership Brugge’s Jan-Breydel stadium the place PSG won 5-0 in 2019 thanks, particularly, to an unimaginable 18-minute hat-trick by Mbappe after he got here off the bench within the second half.

Wednesday will, clearly, be an unimaginable second, an opportunity for Pochettino to point out off among the best attacking traces ever seen on this recreation and, arguably, the primary time PSG start the competitors because the overwhelming favourites. On paper, actually, Messi has taken this crew to the subsequent stage, however is it sufficient? The squad believes so.

Whereas the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester Metropolis and Chelsea might be huge contenders, the recruitment in the summertime (Georginio Wijnaldum, Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Nuno Mendes, Sergio Ramos), the truth that Kylian Mbappe ended up staying regardless of Actual Madrid’s astronomical bids and Neymar’s pleasure of being reunited with Messi has elevated confidence in Paris. There’s additionally the mix of expertise (Ramos, Messi) and younger expertise, the energy in depth and the truth that they’re the one crew to have reached the semifinals previously two seasons — no simple feat given the toughness of the Champions League past the knockout phases.

And naturally, Messi, greater than Neymar or Mbappé, is the X-Issue. With him within the crew, something is feasible, each goal is reachable and each recreation winnable.

Nonetheless, Pochettino will not have a full squad to name upon in midweek; Ramos and Marco Verratti are injured, whereas important holding midfielder Idrissa Gueye is suspended. This isn’t a brand new subject for the previous Tottenham coach: he is been compelled to rotate and blend gamers quite a bit to date this season, which is nothing uncommon for giant golf equipment like Manchester Metropolis, Bayern Munich or Chelsea. With a goal of a totally match and accessible squad between now and Matchday 2, when PSG host Man Metropolis, that is after we’ll lastly get to see what this PSG is about, what formation Pochettino prefers, the place Messi suits finest, how the entrance three may click on and whether or not or not they’ve the best stability between protection and assault that is so typically troublesome for high groups to handle.

Whereas Pochettino is beneath immense stress to ship, for Messi, the enjoyable begins now. After the very best summer time of his life with Argentina and the Copa America, after the sensational transfer to Paris and settling in there together with his household, it is time for him to actually get his season began with PSG. | Messi, PSG assured for Champions League glory as he prepares for full membership debut in Brugge


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