Champions League: PSG call for patience on Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is expected to play in Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League clash against Manchester City on Tuesday after taking part in a training session.
The Argentine forward missed two Ligue 1 games with a bruised knee but did not appear to be struggling with the injury on Monday morning.
“We will confirm the starting 11 tomorrow (Tuesday),” coach Mauricio Pochettino told a news conference when asked about Messi ahead of the Group A clash at the Parc des Princes. “But I think he will be in the squad tomorrow.”
Pochettino added that Messi, who joined the French club on a two-year contract from Barcelona, would need time to adjust in Paris.
“He did 20 years in Barcelona, it’s normal he felt at home there and here, everything is new for him. He did not arrive a long time ago,” the Argentine said.
Pochettino also confirmed that Marco Verratti would probably be involved after the Italy midfielder missed four games with a knee injury.
“He trained well the last few days and we think he will be able to be in the squad. We haven’t decided on the starting 11 but he could be in it,” he said.
PSG were knocked out in the semi-finals last season by City, a club that is “ahead” of the capital side, Pochettino conceded.
“It’s a fact, not an opinion, that we are a team in construction. City have been under the best coach in the world in my opinion with Pep Guardiola,” he said.
“It’s a matter of time but also, let’s face it, of investment.”
Pep on rival trio
Messi’s sensational transfer to Paris Saint-Germain was a surprise for everyone, Guardiola said, adding that he hopes the Argentine plays on Tuesday.
“It was a surprise for everyone — what happened, happened. Everyone now accepts it,” Guardiola said when asked about Messi leaving Barca.
“Long time ago you couldn’t imagine (it), but it happened. Life itself, you never know what happens. What’s important is that he’ll be happy there in Paris.
“I think this type of player speaks for itself on the pitch, I don’t have to add anything else. We were fortunate to see him during these 16 years... His career is exceptional. Hopefully tomorrow (Tuesday) he can play for the benefit of the game.”
PSG’s potent frontline of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe poses a major threat to City’s defence.
“I don’t know, (with) this amount of quality, I don’t know how to stop them, they are so good,” Guardiola added.
“You have to defend well without the ball and let them run when we have the ball. They are exceptional players, everyone knows it, all of them so good. Individually and they combine so good.
“The three players up front can do whatever they want. Wide narrow, wide left, Messi can play right or middle, Mbappe wide or middle... They combine so well, the talent cannot be stopped.”
Atletio Madrid coach Diego Simeone has conceded his side need to change things after an unconvincing start to the season.
In La Liga they were defeated 1-0 by lowly Alaves on Saturday, while their stalemate with Porto earlier this month means they have little room for error when they face AC Milan on Tuesday.
“In a lot of the games we’ve played this season our opponents have stopped us from creating space,” Simeone said.
“We’re on the back of a season when teams have been able to know us, and they work on what we’re good at. It’s down to us to evolve and change.”
Simeone has Thomas Lemar back from a thigh injury for the trip to a stadium he knows well, having spent two years at city rivals Inter Milan during his playing days.
“We know we’re up against tough opponents who have a good team and who play dynamic stuff,” Simeone said.
Klopp not worried
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said the defensive issues on display against Brentford are not too much of a concern but they do not want to repeat those mistakes at Porto.
Klopp’s side came from a goal behind on Saturday to lead twice in an end-to-end match but conceded an 83rd-minute equaliser as Brentford secured a 3-3 draw.
“It’s not that much of a concern, but we have to show a reaction. It’s tricky to win a game when you aren’t defending well and that’s what we didn’t do,” Klopp said.
“It wasn’t just the last line. In general, we had a problem with defending. Porto is a different team but we have to improve in that department. We spoke about it and know we cannot (defend) like that and we sorted that and have to show that tomorrow.”