When Lionel Messi arrived in Paris, nobody entertained the notion that he may not fit in right away. Looking at the trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Messi upfront left only one conclusion – there were plenty of goals to be had. However, life at Paris Saint-Germain hasn’t been as straightforward as many ancticipated.
Take, for example, the fact that the Argentine was subbed in the second half of the PSG vs Lyon match. Les Parisiens struggled to edge past Lyon and, as an immediate response, the rumour mill started to crank out the gossip. It feels as though judging an unfit Messi on three goal-less performances is wrong. Still, it’s more than necessary to consider how three egos will gel in one team and what will happen if they don’t.
They Should Win Ligue 1 Regardless
As far as Ligue 1 is concerned, PSG shouldn’t have too many problems even if Messi doesn’t get 20 goals and assists this season. The structure of French football means that the club has the money and power to dominate when their top stars don’t perform. The match against Lyon was a prime example because Mauro Icardi, a substitute, scored the winner in injury time.
As it currently stands, the outright Ligue 1 football betting markets rank PSG as the odds-on, 1/20 favourites. This is against a backdrop of failing to win the league title last season. Yes, lightning may strike twice, but the odds of that happening are slim to zero. After all, PSG has a fully fit side complete with new additions such as Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The Champions League Will Be Tough
The Champions League is why PSG’s management team spent years attempting to lure Messi to the Le Parc des Princes. Similarly to Manchester City with Pep Guardiola, they see La Pulga as the missing piece of the puzzle. Paris came agonisingly close to European success in 2020, but sadly fell at the final hurdle. It’s hoped that Messi could be the difference, the ammunition they need to go the distance.
Nonetheless, that’s if he performs at the same level that he’s shown so consistently over the last ten years. 30 domestic goals in 60 games are enough to make any team a threat, never mind one with Mbappe and Neymar present. The Champions League betting market believes PSG is the side to beat, making the club the 7/2 favourite. But Manchester City, Chelsea and Bayern Munich aren’t far behind in terms of odds and quality, at 7/2, 7/1 and 11/2, respectively.
If PSG doesn’t hit its marks, Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann have proven they won’t give an inch. PSG will need Messi at his very best to get past the English and German giants.
Mauricio Pochettino Will Be Under Pressure
Mauricio Pochettino will have the biggest problem. The fans and hierarchy in Paris won’t let him keep Messi on the bench if he struggles to acclimatise. The Argentinian player himself won’t stand for the situation, either.
Of course, if the balance of the team isn’t correct, the former Tottenham manager can’t just field the same first-11 week after week. It’s his head on the line if PSG isn’t successful in France and Europe. Therefore, there may be tension between the two countrymen.
Remember - Pochettino hasn’t led a side filled with as many world-class stars as PSG before. Managing Messi, Mbappe and Neymar is different gravy to keeping Harry Kane happy.
Several things may happen, the main one being that PSG will probably struggle to claim the club’s maiden Champions League. On the flip side, the squad could dominate the continent if Pochettino finds a way to strike a balance between defence and attack.