Pochettino reacts after Wijnaldum fights in PSG draw

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Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino defended his choice after fielding Georginio Wijnaldum in Lionel Messi’s usual role – as the former Liverpool star struggled in the 1-1 draw with Lyon.

Wijnaldum was deployed in an attacking right-wing role, with Messi ruled out after his recent COVID-19 positive test.

The runaway Ligue 1 leaders managed just three shots on goal in a frustrating game, had 68.4 percent of ball possession, but struggled to make their dominance count, and Pochettino regretted their slow start after the final whistle.

PSG demanded a late attack from substitute Thilo Kehrer to take a point, after trailing for over an hour after Lucas Paqueta’s early goal.

Wijnaldum had only one shot that did not hit the target, while Kylian Mbappe on the opposite flank failed with five shots, even though two hit the goal frame.

Dutch national team player Wijnaldum, who signed for PSG in June last year, had a pass accuracy of 95.6 percent, but he struggled to pose a significant attacking threat against Lyon in the middle of the table.

After the struggle to assess Wijnaldum’s matches, Pochettino defended his decision to field the midfielder in such an advanced role and in a number of different positions during his short PSG career.

Pochettino, quoted in L’Equipe, said: “It is also a matter of balance, of players being available. I do not think it is a matter of position, but of states of form.

“Wijnaldum has a lot of experience, he has been in big clubs. He is used to playing in different positions. “

PSG got back on track after replacing key midfielders Leandro Paredes and Ander Herrera in the 69th minute, with Wijnaldum following them off the pitch late in the match.

“When we switched, we were looking for freshness. The introductions of Thilo Kehrer, Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut brought energy and enthusiasm, ”said Pochettino.

“They played a part in the equalizer and they carried the team, so I’m happy.”

PSG remain 11 points ahead at the top of the Ligue 1 table, but have now drawn four of their last five league games.

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