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Open the bubbly. In France’s City of Kings, in the heart of the Champagne region, Lionel Messi made his entry into Paris Saint-Germain when soccer royalty arrived in the ‘farmers league’.
There is a new king in town and while we only saw Messi for half an hour at Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, you could hardly take your eyes off him.
Incongruous in PSG blue as it was, this is Messi’s fate now, the future he has chosen since his Barcelona career ended in tears.
Ligue 1 gets a bad rap, but Messi’s arrival instantly turns him into a box office, and those who watched this show got a glimpse of what we should expect.
There was a word in Mauricio Pochettino’s ear and then a hug for Neymar, as Messi replaced the world’s most expensive footballer midway through the second half, moments after Kylian Mbappé scored his second goal and that of PSG than that. It turned out to be a 2- 0 win.
There was not going to be a goal from Messi, as much as it seemed that many inside the stadium were willing to have one, particularly the PSG ultras.
His tackle and then his first touch, a simple 10-yard pass into his own half, were loudly cheered, and it wasn’t long before Messi was picking up the ball and charging forward, driving at a pace through midfield. and launching into the penalty area. .
Such a familiar spectacle, and here Messi had the luxury of being able to unload Mbappé on the right. Mbappé, the player that Real Madrid desperately wants and could still get before the transfer window closes.
Then came the warning from the Ligue 1 tough union that Messi would not have it easy in France.
As Mbappé collected the pass, Messi received the sensible treatment twice by reversing the Reims players as he searched for the return ball, Marshall Munetsi practically grabbing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner by the neck in an unsuccessful effort to stop. your progress. .
Mbappé could not choose the pass, with Messi surrounded, but it was a moment when one wondered what rich harvest of goals that combination could produce, and if we could see his potential come true this season.
Munetsi attacked Messi again later when the game reached injury time. Naturally, Messi has seen it all before. It was a handshake from all sides at the end.
It may be a different shirt, but this was the same Messi as always. There was the thrill of one of those delicious give-and-take moves, and referee Francois Letexier also played six minutes of stoppage time. Why not see a little more?
Deep in the streets of Reims are 200 kilometers of cellars and tunnels that house the best bottles of bubbles, produced in these parts and that mature underground before being shipped around the world.
It pays to be patient, the underground conditions bring out the best of the local delicacy before it reaches its full flavor. If you take out a bottle too early, the product will not meet the highest standards.
Messi’s 65 minutes on the bench allowed him to measure the pace of the French game closely, and then he was ready to be released. However, the cork is already out of the bottle, and Messi’s excitement in provincial stadiums like this is something fans will drink for the duration of this stop.
He received three fouls in total, a tall team together with Neymar, had 26 touches and made 95.2 percent of his passes (20 of 21). He won four of his five games, which are within the laws of the game, and it certainly delighted Pochettino and his Qatari payers.
PSG brought their big imported brands to a city that exports their homegrown effervescent finery, where the cathedral has seen 31 coronations, and won with goals from a young player that they could send to foreign climates in a matter of hours in exchange for a king. rescue.
However, perhaps Mbappé would like a full season of this. Will his association with Messi really be a one-night stand?
As jarring as it must have felt to see all this in Barcelona, because of a bitter aftertaste it must have left, the only thing the Parisians lacked was the crowning of a Messi goal, and they will soon flow.