Pochettino seeks time for stars to sparkle
Lionel Messi failed to provide Paris Saint-Germain with any sparkle as the Ligue 1 team’s potent attacking trio lacked inspiration in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.
Making his first start for the French team, the Argentine forward hit the woodwork but was otherwise far from his brilliant best alongside the hugely disappointing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Ander Herrera scored PSG’s first-half opener.
Brugge, who levelled before half-time through Hans Vanaken, were more aggressive and had the best chances against a PSG side lacking quality and defensive focus.
With Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together on the pitch for the first time, PSG made a confident start but Brugge responded well.
Mbappe broke down the left flank and his low cross was met by Herrera, who opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a low finish for his fourth goal of the season — his third in his last two games.
But on a sharp attack, the visitors’ defence was overwhelmed on the right side and after a late run into the box, Vanaken connected with Eduard Sobol’s cutback to beat Keylor Navas after 27 minutes.
PSG suffered a blow six minutes into the second half when Mbappe limped off the pitch after taking a knock on his ankle and was substituted by Mauro Icardi.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino warned that it would take some time for his formidable attacking trio to shine.
“It requires time for them to shine together,” said Pochettino.
“It requires work. I had made it clear that we’re not a team yet, we have to work for this.”
PSG’s midfield was almost non-existent in the absence of the injured Marco Verratti.
That prompted Pochettino to replace Leandro Paredes with Danilo and Georginio Wijnaldum with Julian Draxler but to no effect.
“We needed more consistency and more fluidity. We made too many mistakes,” Pochettino explained.
“But despite all this I’m satisfied with the players. We have to keep calm and keep working.”