With their club down 1-0 at home to Lille, it was not exactly the switch that Paris Saint-Germain supporters were expecting to see at halftime: superstar Lionel Messi exited, with fellow Argentine Mauro Icardi taking his place.
Messi had a poor first half playing the role of “false nine” at the center of the forward line. He gave the ball away and was often swarmed by defenders as Lille clogged the middle of the field. He struggled to create with his back to goal, threading a ball to compatriot Angel Di Maria in the one instance he was afforded a brief running spurt at the Lille defense. He finished with two shots off target and lost possession seven times.
But the substitution had nothing to do with his performance and everything to do with an injury. L’Equipe reported during the match that Messi had a muscle issue, and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino later explained that the move was precautionary and made in consultation with team doctors at halftime. Pochettino did not disclose the nature of the injury, but a video clip from the match showed Messi grabbing the back of his left leg:
Will Lionel Messi play in Champions League?
When asked whether Messi will be able to recover in time to face German side RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, Pochettino said he was hopeful. But he didn’t exactly sound convincing in his English-language response during a postgame interview with Canal+ in which he repeated “hope” three times, and once more in French to avoid any confusion:
A translated version of his response about Messi’s status in a separate interview with Prime Video Sports France read: “We have to wait. We were with the doctors at halftime and it was a precaution. He could not continue. We hope that it’s not a big problem.”
The 34-year-old Messi was a doubt entering the match after he missed Thursday’s practice with muscle discomfort. But he was still inserted into the starting lineup against Lille, occupying a spot that would have gone to Kylian Mbappe had he not been ruled out with an ear infection. Mbappe was in a suite at the Parc des Prince to witness the match, which PSG came from behind to win 2-1.
His teammate Angel Di Maria, who scored the late game-winner and also registered an assist in Messi’s absence, was quoted as telling Prime Sports France after the match that “it’s the same pain [Messi] had since before the match. I think it’s nothing serious. Only a precaution.”
Messi’s season with PSG so far
This is not the first time that Messi has had to depart a Ligue 1 match due to injury.
He was controversially substituted in the latter stage of a match against Olympique Lyon, making it obvious he didn’t appreciate being taken off the field by Pochettino. But days later, an MRI revealed a bone bruise to his left knee that forced him to miss the club’s following league match.
Messi has missed six of 11 Ligue 1 matches for various reasons since signing with the club on Aug. 10. The match against Lille was Messi’s fifth Ligue 1 appearance and he has yet to score a goal in league play. It’s definitely not going unnoticed. Here is some perspective on his Ligue 1 drought from Opta:
But when it comes to the UEFA Champions League, Messi has not missed a single minute of play, scoring three goals and helping PSG to the top of Group A with a 2-0-1 record that has the club in front of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City. It remains to be seen whether his Champions League run of matches continues Wednesday.
Source: Read Full Article