It is not often that Lionel Messi scores in the first team of a club at which he is no longer a regular starter.
For 20 years, from his arrival at the Nou Camp to his last game for the club, until this year, Messi was always Barcelona’s first-choice striker. When Messi was still there, he played with everything, directing his teammates, leading them up the pitch, working tirelessly, and carrying them when they needed him.
But there has been a big change at Barcelona this season, and in particular in the team’s attack, with Ousmane Dembele in first-team action and lots of new players getting time in the lineup.
The clash against Bordeaux last week showed things could become a little more complicated up front. Messi is now a dangerous penalty-box threat whenever he is introduced in games.
But if Messi and Luis Suarez are playing out wide, then other options become increasingly important. Messi scored three times in their record-breaking 8-0 win over Rayo Vallecano last week. Suarez scored twice. VAR helped the pair earn those as they did not appear to be fouled, but sometimes on a given day that does not always happen.
Against Bordeaux, Messi and Suarez were back playing in the box, which gave greater space to Antoine Griezmann and Denis Suarez. Not unexpectedly, they grabbed a goal each. But it was Messi who opened the scoring against Bordeaux, nudging in a superb volley from Ousmane Dembele’s superb through ball, over Benoit Costil’s attempt to cut out the pass.
Messi has now scored in his debut for Paris Saint-Germain, following his transfer from Barcelona in July for a reported 222 million euros ($249 million). Despite Messi’s size and physical presence, a goal from distance was a very bold move from his new club. PSG fans will be particularly pleased, because this weekend Messi will join Neymar in the team, and will again be coming up against Real Madrid’s very very big men.
Note that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had three goals in his first league game for PSG, against Caen in 2015.
PSG will be a formidable team, and with Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe in the team, the pressure will be on the other eight teams in the French league to try and score against them. Real Madrid know that as they are one of those teams.
“In football there are wins, and then there is me,” Ronaldo said in a recent interview. “The moment you go to the bar and someone asks if you beat the others, you feel like you did not win.”
Like it or not, PSG will do very well to beat Real Madrid this season.
For now, though, at least Messi is helping his new club to score goals, and to make Madrid rue his departure.
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