With Neymar out due to injury and Mbappe serving a suspension, how will Lionel Messi fare against Lorient today? With Neymar out and Mbappe suspended, the Ballon d’Or winner will be left to lead the attack against Lorient on Wednesday night.
When Lionel Messi leads the Paris Saint-Germain attack against struggling Lorient on Wednesday at Stade Moustoir, it won’t be precisely like old days, but the Argentine will be reinstated to his usual role as the team’s star player.
Messi was virtually untouchable with Barcelona for 17 years, and even more so in recent years. ‘Get the ball to Messi,’ was usually the solution when Barca had a problem to solve.
His seven Ballons d’Or are proof of how successful this strategy was. He has had to fight for the spotlight since joining PSG in the summer.
This season, Kylian Mbappe has been the Parisians’ go-to player. With 15 goals and as many assists, there’s little doubt that the French sensation, who turned 23 on Monday, has completely outscored the 34-year-old Argentine.
Mbappe, on the other hand, will miss the trip to Brittany on Wednesday due to his suspension. Neymar, the superstar trio’s misfiring third member, is still more than a month away from returning to fitness. For the first time, Messi will play for PSG.
In a Monday interview with Europe1, Leonardo argued, “If you look at Messi’s numbers, his first six months are incredible.”
“If you doubt Messi, it’s because you don’t know anything about football,” the Brazilian added.
Regardless of Leonardo’s spin, Messi has been a disappointment in the domestic game at the very least. While he has five goals in five Champions League games, he has only one strike in ten Ligue 1 outings, and his defensive contribution has been called into doubt.
Messi may have added five assists to his tally, including a spectacular hat-trick against Saint-Etienne, but this is not the production PSG had anticipated for from the game’s best player.
Messi’s adaptation, on the other hand, could be accelerated by the opportunity to become the team’s focal point, a role he excelled at for two decades in Barcelona. Despite his age disadvantage, Mbappe has maintained that status throughout the season, but it is now the Argentine’s to take for at least 90 minutes.
This journey to Ligue 1’s worst-performing team, then, represents a fantastic opportunity for Messi to reclaim the stature he had at Camp Nou for so long.
“It’s true that without Mbappe, we’ll have to build and progress on the pitch in a different way,” Pochettino admitted during his pre-match press conference, before acknowledging that Messi can be overlooked on occasion.
“We have a tendency to move too hastily. When players like Neymar or Mbappe are on the field, it’s understandable that the first instinct is to attempt to go behind since they are so comfortable in this position. We’ll be able to construct play and respect the processes of building an attack without him.”
This is, without a doubt, where Messi comes in. Lorient’s Christophe Pelissier is well aware of the potential impact that South America could have on this match.
“It’s everyone’s dream,” Pelissier stated. “I went to a lot of games at Camp Nou while I was coaching Luzenac [a club in the south-west of France].” Messi’s performance was outstanding. We never imagined we’d have to deal with him.
“Having a player like him in France is a fantastic chance.” Whatever happens, we’ll have had the opportunity to play against him, which is fantastic.”
Indeed, this could be Messi’s toughest test since joining PSG. It’s his time to fully demonstrate his abilities without fear of being overshadowed – and to silence some of his increasingly outspoken naysayers.