El efecto Messi se nota en las llegadas

Las llegadas del Barcelona a los hoteles europeos en las previas a los partidos de Champions eran una cosa con leo Messi y ahora son otra muy distinta.

Si entonces, con el argentino en las filas barcelonistas, las aglomeraciones en las puertas de los hoteles de caza autógrafos, seguidores del Barça, colonia argentina y curiosos en general era la moneda de uso común, ahora el Barcelona llega a sus cuarteles generales casi de incógnito.

Escudo/Bandera Barcelona

El equipo barcelonista desembarcó en la puerta del hotel Epic de Lisboa sobre las siete de la tarde donde le aguardaban exactamente 18 personas y un simpático bichón. Nada que ver con otras épocas. A pesar de que los escasos fans del equipo se desgañitaron llamando a los jugadores e incluso una chica llevaba una cartulina con el nombre de Araújo, ni uno de los jugadores del Barcelona se acercó para firmar un autógrafo. En eso siguen igual que cuando estaba Messi.

La hora de Messi

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El PSG fichó a Messi para partidos como el de hoy ante el Manchester City. Incorporó a Mbappé y Neymar para acercarse a la Champions League, cosa que ha conseguido en los dos últimos años, alcanzando la final en 2020 y logrando llegar a las semifinales en la última edición, pero la llegada del argentino supone entrar en una dimensión en la que no hay excusas para no ganar la máxima competición continental. De momento, Al-Khelaïfi ha intentado lo imposible por hacer del PSG el mejor equipo de Europa y, en diez años de reinado catarí en Francia, la Copa de Europa es, hasta la fecha, el único torneo que se le resiste a los parisinos (sigue el partido en directo en As.com).

Con Messi cambia todo. Tanto para el PSG, que puede contar con un jugador que decide por su sola presencia partidos por sí mismo como para los rivales. Que el City llegue a París siendo campeón de la Premier, finalista de la última Champions y la mejor defensa de Europa (un solo gol encajado en todas las competiciones), habiendo vencido al Chelsea por la mínima en su último compromiso liguero, poco importa si está Messi. El rosarino, que se ha perdido por lesión los dos últimos partidos, se ha recuperado ya y está listo para intentar, de una vez por todas, estrenarse como goleador. De momento, el exjugador del Barcelona ha disputado tres encuentros con el PSG, pero no pudo marcar ni asistir en ninguno de ellos, a pesar de haber tenido dos disparos al palo y ser el jugador más destacado de su equipo en los tres partidos que ha jugado.

Respecto al partido, reedición de las semifinales de la temporada pasada en la cual el City salió vencedor tanto en la ida como en la vuelta, ambos equipos llegan en el mejor momento del curso a la contienda. El PSG lleva pleno de victorias en la Ligue 1, pero su único pinchazo se produjo en Champions ante el Brujas. La victoria de hoy es fundamental para intentar luchar por el liderato de grupo, mientras que el City llega con la moral por las nubes tras haber ganado al Chelsea, su verdugo en la última Champions League, y en una actuación colectiva brillante de los de Guardiola. Será el reencuentro del de Sampedor con Messi, al que tuvo en el Barcelona y con el que alcanzó la cima del fútbol al ganar dos Champions y hacer del Barça uno de los mejores equipos de la historia, sino el mejor.

Del Cerro Grande, árbitro de la contienda

El español Del Cerro Grande ha sido el árbitro designado por la UEFA para cubrir el PSG-Manchester City de esta noche. Será el primer encuentro que arbitre al PSG, aunque su experiencia en Europa ha crecido notablemente, ya que acumula 15 encuentros en la máxima competición continental. Por su parte, el colegiado ha dirigido al City en cinco ocasiones, repartiéndose en dos en la 2018/2019 (Shakhtar y Schalke), una en la 2019/2020 (Dinamo de Zagreb) y dos veces la temporada pasada (Olympiacos y los cuartos de final contra el Borussia de Dortmund).

En Francia, además, la prensa no se olvida del madrileño, que arbitró durante la Eurocopa el partido entre los galos y Alemania en la primera jornada de la fase de grupos y el cual se olvidó de señalar un penalti sobre Kylian Mbappé, que provocó la crítica de muchos partidarios de la selección durante varios días.

Zoff zwischen Mbappé und Neymar? Pochettino beschwichtigt

Ein Video-Schnipsel ging bei Paris St. Germains letztem Auftritt viral. Trainer Mauricio Pochettino versteht die Aufregung nicht.

Gegen Montpellier offenbar nicht einer Meinung: Kylian Mbappé (li.) und Neymar.

Gegen Montpellier offenbar nicht einer Meinung: Kylian Mbappé (li.) und Neymar.

imago images/Le Pictorium

So ist das wohl einfach, wenn man lauter Superstars verpflichtet. Nach dem 2:1-Sieg gegen Lyon sprach jeder über Lionel Messis Reaktion bei seiner Auswechslung, nach dem 2:0 gegen Montpellier diesen Samstag ging es vor allem um einen Satz, den Kylian Mbappé kurz nach seiner Auswechslung auf der Bank zu sagen schien. “Zu mir spielt er nicht ab”, soll er sich frustriert beschwert und dabei Neymar gemeint haben.

Von einem Zoff wollte Mauricio Pochettino aber nichts wissen. “Sie sind fantastische Jungs”, beschwichtigte der PSG-Trainer am Montag. “Solche Dinge passieren im Fußball.” Er habe mit beiden einzeln bereits gesprochen und beide auch untereinander. “Und ihr konntet im Training sehen, dass sie Spaß hatten.” Alles andere sei nur “Gerede”: Innerhalb der Mannschaft “war es nichts”.

Klar ist für Pochettino allerdings, dass es noch “Zeit brauchen wird”, bis das Zusammenspiel zwischen Mbappé, Neymar und Messi reibungslos funktioniert. Vor allem bei Neuzugang Messi warb der Trainer um Geduld: “Ihr müsst verstehen, dass er ein Mensch ist wie wir, der sich an seinen neuen Klub gewöhnen muss”, genau wie dessen Familie. “Er war 20 Jahre in Barcelona. Jetzt ist alles neu.”

Am Dienstag (21 Uhr, LIVE! bei kicker) wird Messi nach seiner Knieprellung und zwei Spielen Zwangspause wieder in den Kader zurückkehren. Das bestätigte Pochettino – ohne zu verraten, ob sein Landsmann gegen Manchester City auch beginnen wird.

Opinion: PSG clash gives City chance to prove they were right not to sign Messi

Paris Saint-Germain wasted little time in making their move for Lionel Messi. Alerted to the 34-year-old’s availability, it took the Ligue 1 club just a matter of days to make a transfer official, illustrating just how desperate the Parisians were to land the player widely considered the greatest to have ever played the game.

Had this situation played out 12 months earlier, it’s entirely possible Manchester City would have been the club to land Messi. Indeed, they were widely deemed to have led the pursuit in the 2020 summer transfer window and would have signed the Argentine had Barcelona not dug in their heels and refused to let Messi, still under contract at that point, leave.

When the opportunity arose for real, though, City refused to dismantle their side to sign Messi. They valued their team over the individual, instead following through on their plan to sign Jack Grealish and target Harry Kane. And with PSG set to host City in the Champions League on Tuesday night, the Premier League champions have the chance to prove this was the right approach.

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Messi hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts in the French capital. He has yet to find the back of the net for his new team with Mauricio Pochettino so far struggling to fit Kylian Mbappe, Messi and Neymar into the same side. PSG have yet to find the right balance even as they have started the season with eight wins from nine games.

Manchester City, on the other hand, are improving with almost every match they play. Pep Guardiola’s team started their Premier League title defence with an underwhelming defeat to Tottenham Hotspur and were held at home by Southampton just over a week ago, but the away win over Chelsea on Saturday saw them back to their very best.

Much has been made of City’s failure to capture a new centre forward after the exit of Sergio Aguero at the end of last season, with Kane still at Spurs after a public pursuit led to nothing, but Guardiola has devised a system that harnesses a number of different attackers. With Gabriel Jesus, Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez on the books, City aren’t exactly lacking in goal threat.

Crucially, Guardiola has a much tighter grasp on the identity of his Manchester City team than Pochettino has on PSG. While the summer signing of Messi has raised expectations at the Parc des Princes, Pochettino has yet to find a system to harness all the attacking talent at his disposal.

At Tottenham, Pochettino was renowned for his proactive approach. There has, however, been no sign of that in PSG’s play so far this season with the Ligue 1 outfit unwilling, or unable, to press high on opponents. City are a product of their manager’s footballing philosophy. PSG are currently anything but that and the arrival of Messi hasn’t helped.

Gabriel Jesus celebrates his winner for Manchester City against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Image credit: Getty Images

Of course, it’s still very early days for Messi at PSG. Injuries have denied the 34-year-old the chance to build up any momentum at his new club with Messi not even certain to feature against Manchester City on Tuesday night. Once he is fully fit, it seems inevitable the six-times Ballon d’Or winner will rack up the numbers as he has done all the way through his career.

Right now, though, City look to be much closer to their final form than PSG. Tuesday’s match will pit a finished article against a work in progress. Some at the Etihad Stadium, maybe even Guardiola himself, might still feel a pang of regret over not signing Messi when they had the chance this summer, but victory over PSG would help justify their decision.

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'I don't know how to stop them' – Guardiola expects 'pain' against PSG's attack

Pep Guardiola admits he is unsure how his side are going to be able to stop Paris Saint-Germain’s front three of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi when City face the Ligue 1 club in their Champions League group stage match on Tuesday night.

City started their Champions League campaign with a 6-3 win over RB Leipzig, but are now expected to face a tougher test against Mauricio Pochettino’s side with Messi in line to start against his old boss at Barcelona.

Messi is set to be in the starting XI after missing PSG’s last two matches with a knee injury. Guardiola says containing PSG’s front three will be a great test for City on Tuesday night.

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”What should we do? I don’t know,” Guardiola told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

“This amount of quality I don’t know how to stop them, they’re so good, this amount of talent makes it so difficult. We have to defend well.

“The talent cannot be stopped. We have to do it as a team, be compact, help each other, know we are going to suffer. How you handle through the pain in those moments.

They are so good these kind of teams, you have to be able to suffer 90 minutes.

“They’re exceptional, all of them are so good individually, they can combine and connect. We are looking forward to playing the game.”

Messi has made three appearances for PSG but is yet to find the net. Guardiola is still surprised that Messi did leave Barcelona after 21 years with the Catalan giants.

He added: “A long time ago you could not imagine (Messi leaving Barca) but it’s happened.

“In football, in life you never know what might happen. I’m pretty sure he will be happy there in Paris.

“Messi speaks for himself, I don’t have to describe him. What he’s done is more than exceptional and hopefully tomorrow he can play for the benefit of the game.”

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Mbappe was 'very p***ed off' with Neymar for not passing to him – Inside Europe

It’s the big one.

Paris Saint-Germain welcome fellow big spenders Manchester City to the French capital on Tuesday evening, with the hosts desperate to avoid another slip after dropping points in their opening match with Club Brugge.

The runaway Ligue 1 leaders are sweating on the fitness of Lionel Messi, who missed the weekend win over Montpellier, while there have been reports of a feud between Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

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Is there any truth to those rumours and will PSG deploy their star-studded ‘MNM attack against City? We spoke to Eurosport France’s Cyril Morin ahead of the crunch clash.

There are reports that Mbappe complained Neymar “doesn’t give me the ball” at the weekend. Is there a problem between them?

Yes, Mbappe did complain when he was on the bench, but he was referring to one particular moment when Neymar tried to score when he felt he was in a better position. He was very p***ed off with both his and Neymar’s individual displays – he thought his team-mate played on his own too often – but they spoke before training on Sunday, according to L’Equipe, to stop their relationship rotting.

And then there’s Messi. While there’s no “problem” with his arrival, there’s a growing question: is Mbappe the odd one out from the MNM? Playing upfront, he doesn’t get as many passes as he does when he’s on the left. Messi and Neymar know each other and tend to seek one another, whereas Mbappe has to go to the flank to get the ball. At the moment, the connection between the three isn’t very fluid as they haven’t played many games together.

Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé

Image credit: Getty Images

Will PSG start Mbappe, Neymar and Messi (if fit) against City, or will this leave them too open?

Yes, if Messi is able to play, there’s no doubt about it. How can you leave one of them off the pitch?

It’s an impossible decision for Pochettino so the MNM will play. Against Club Brugge, PSG went for a 4-3-3 formation but against Lyon they added Angel Di Maria and played a 4-2-3-1. Given Di Maria is suspended on Tuesday, there’s no doubt about the 4-3-3 with holding midfielders in Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera.

Possible PSG line-up: Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes; Herrera, Wijnaldum, Gueye; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar.

Who do you think is favourite for the match?

That’s a very hard question.

If we are being reasonable, based on what we’ve seen this season, City look like a team while PSG are a work in progress. With the MNM, they can score against every team but if City plays with the same intensity as the win over Chelsea, I’m not sure PSG can match such a collective level.

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Messi: Ohne Knieprobleme ins Duell mit Guardiola

Zuletzt musste Lionel Messi wegen Knieproblemen kürzertreten – am Montag allerdings bestritt der PSG-Offensivspieler wieder Teile des Mannschaftstrainings. Für ManCity dürfte der 34-Jährige gerüstet sein.

Am Samstag noch auf der Tribüne, am Montag mittendrin beim Abschlusstraining vor dem ManCity-Spiel: PSG-Profi Lionel Messi.

Am Samstag noch auf der Tribüne, am Montag mittendrin beim Abschlusstraining vor dem ManCity-Spiel: PSG-Profi Lionel Messi.

imago images/PanoramiC

15 Minuten wurde das Abschlusstraining von Paris St. Germain am Montag übertragen – die Mannschaft von Trainer Mauricio Pochettino bereitete sich am Montag auf das große Duell mit Manchester City vor, das am Dienstagabend (21 Uhr, LIVE! bei kicker) in der französischen Hauptstadt steigt.

Gut gelaunt und ohne Knieprobleme

In dieser Viertelstunde absolvierte der 34-jährige Argentinier gut gelaunt und ohne sichtbare Beeinträchtigungen zunächst das Aufwärmprogramm und dann Spielformen in kleineren Gruppen. Nach seiner zwei Pflichtspiele andauernden Zwangspause – Messi hatte sich im Spiel gegen Lyon (2:1) am linken Knie verletzt und Blutergüsse am Knochen davongetragen – dürfte der PSG-Neuzugang für das Wiedersehen mit seinem Ex-Trainer Pep Guardiola aus frühen Barcelona-Zeiten gerüstet sein.

Zwei CL-Siege mit Guardiola

Der katalanische City-Coach Pep und Messi feierten einst gerade in der Champions League große Erfolge. 2009 und 2011 gewannen sie gemeinsam den Henkelpott und beide Male musste Manchester United klein beigeben – beim 2:0 in Rom und beim 3:1 in London. In diesem Sommer hatte Messi nach 21 Jahren den hoch verschuldeten FC Barcelona verlassen, auch über einen Wechsel zu Manchester City und Guardiola war zwischenzeitlich spekuliert worden.

Gegner Manchester startete mit einem 6:3-Sieg über RB Leipzig in die aktuelle Saison in der Champions League. Der englische Meister führt die Gruppe A damit auch an, denn PSG war zum Auftakt mit Messi, Neymar und Kylian Mbappé im Sturm nicht über ein 1:1 beim FC Brügge hinausgekommen.

Mbappé está en problemas

Una de las imágenes del domingo en la victoria del PSG ante el Montpellier se produjo en el banquillo. Mbappé, sustituido en el minuto 88, se quejó de Neymar tras el brasileño asistir a Draxler en el 2-0 de los parisinos. El de Bondy le dijo a su compañero Idrissa Gueye que Neymar no le daba ese tipo de pases cuando estaba en el campo, una frase que no ha tardado en interpretar la prensa francesa.

Según L’Équipe, Mbappé se ha alejado poco a poco de Neymar. En 2017, ambos formaron una dupla inseparable que se ha prolongado hasta hoy. Esa amistad, que tuvo problemas en el campo, como el distanciamiento de Cavani en 2018, se había erigido como una de las más prolíficas del fútbol europeo. Sin embargo, esta temporada las dos estrellas no se han asistido ni han marcado un gol en el que ambos estén implicados, una estadística reveladora de que no están encontrándose como en otros años en el terreno de juego.

El distanciamiento de Mbappé también tiene que ver con la “hispanización” del vestuario del PSG. La llegada de Messi ha aumentado el número de jugadores de habla hispana y ahí Mbappé, que habla también español, no ha terminado de integrarse. Según L’Équipe, hay miembros del vestuario que no entienden que Mbappé no se una a algunas veladas de la plantilla fuera del terreno de juego.

Neymar, amigo íntimo de Mbappé, tenía mucha ilusión de jugar esta temporada con el internacional francés y Messi. Sin embargo, las ambiciones del exjugador del Mónaco, siempre con el objetivo de aumentar sus registros goleadores, no ha terminado de encajar en la idea de Neymar, que quiere que los tres se entiendan de la mejor forma posible en el campo, tal y como subraya L’Équipe. Un episodio bastante complejo que de produce a tan sólo un día de jugar el PSG ante el City.

'I am proud to wear the 10 after Leo' – Fati

Ansu Fati has thanked Barcelona for handing him the fabled number 10 jersey he has inherited from Lionel Messi.

Barca legend Messi departed Camp Nou in the summer following the failure to agree a new deal.

Fati, who wore number 22 last season, is seen as the great hope for Barca in the post-Messi era.

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He returned from 10 months on the sidelines against Levante on Sunday, and he marked his return with a goal from the bench.

He was mobbed by his team-mates after netting the third in the 3-0 win, and was quick to praise the club’s medical staff who nursed him back from his knee injury.

“Thanks to the doctors and everyone who has been with me through all this,” Fati said. “And the fans who have been unbelievable.”

Commenting on taking on the shirt from Messi, Fati said:

I am proud to wear the 10 after Leo; happy with the club and captains for the opportunity.

Barca are in a period of transition following Messi’s exit, with coach Ronald Koeman under pressure. Despite the problems, Fati says titles are the target.

“We are Barca and we have to aim to win everything – La Liga, Champions League, all the competitions,” Fati said. “We have to fight and work for that.”

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Opinion: Barcelona mustn't count on Ansu to turn around their season

Lionel Messi’s number 10 shirt was still warm when Barcelona, reeling from the shock departure of their greatest ever player, handed it to Ansu Fati. The symbolism was clear. Having suffered the indignity of Messi leaving, the Catalans were eager to highlight how the future remains bright. There is no brighter teenage talent at the Camp Nou than Ansu.

The pressure on the 18-year-old to fill the void left behind by Messi could barely be any greater. Back in the Barca squad for the first time since last November when he suffered a serious injury, Ansu must give his team the attacking spark they have desperately lacked over the first two months of the season.

Without Messi to dictate things, Ronald Koeman’s side have been lifeless of late. They were fortunate to snatch a point at home to Granada last weekend and failed to find a way through against Cadiz on Thursday night. Memphis Depay looks the part as a Barcelona player, but the Dutch forward can’t be expected to do it all on his own.

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This is where Barca hope Ansu will change the dynamic of their attacking play. With the teenager deployed on the left wing, where he is most effective, Koeman will surely use Memphis through the middle as a centre forward with the freedom to drift. This should give Barcelona better balance.

Most crucially, a fully fit Ansu will give Barca some vertical threat. They have struggled to get in behind in almost every match they have played this season and so Ansu’s pace and direct running could be an antidote to this. Koeman doesn’t just need the teenager for his inherent goal threat and creativity, but to stretch the pitch to open up space for others.

Ansu has scored 13 goals and registered five assists in just 41 appearances for Barcelona, making him the club’s most dependable attacking threat. Memphis is capable of brilliance, but he can be inconsistent. Martin Braithwaite is useful as a facilitator, but doesn’t offer much cutting edge – plus, he’s currently injured. Meanwhile, Luuk de Jong is still struggling to justify his deadline day transfer to the Camp Nou.

Barcelona fans are entitled to be excited about the return of Ansu. Not since Messi himself cane though has the Catalan club produced such an accomplished attacking talent. Most young players are incomplete in their qualities, but Ansu has everything – he can dribble, pass, shoot and most impressively, almost appears to know what to do and when to do it. His decision-making is always sharp.

But it is unfair for Barca to demand Ansu turn around their season almost single-handedly. They must be careful not to crush the 18-year-old by heaping too much responsibility on his young shoulders. It is more important that Barcelona look after the long-term development of their best homegrown talent in a generation.

Indeed, it would be better for Barcelona to suffer a dismal 2021/22 campaign while safeguarding the future of their best young players, of which Ansu certainly is one, than run those young players into the ground in the name of short-term salvation. Now is the time for level heads.

Desperation could see Koeman pick Ansu from the start for Sunday’s La Liga fixture at home to Levante. Anything less than a victory might push Barcelona into making a managerial change with Koeman already low on support. The Dutchman’s job could depend on Ansu hitting the ground running.

Anointed Messi’s successor through the symbolism of being handed his former mentor’s shirt, Ansu has the potential to alter the landscape for Barcelona. A lesser player would crumble under the pressure, but the Catalan club are counting on Ansu handling all they are about to ask of him.

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