Benfica-PSG: Lionel Messi, the return to normality

Benfica-PSG: Lionel Messi, the return to normality

Like a feeling of déjà vu. On Saturday against Nice, Lionel Messi gave the air of the Camp Nou in the Parc des Princes. In a complete axis of free kick 20 meters from the Nice goal, the Flea made his velvet foot speak. With a caress wrapped in unstoppable effect, the Parisian number 30 left Riviera goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel speechless and found the clearing to open the scoring. Kicks like this, Messi offers to FC Barcelona for almost 15 years. This magnificent goal sounds like a confirmation of his current form: yes, the Argentine is back.

Landed in the capital as the new jewel of Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, the seven-time Ballon d’Or will have had a frustrating first year in many respects. First he had to digest the emotional weight of leaving FC Barcelona, ​​his club of his entire life. As if it were harder for a soccer alien to be, as it has been so many times, suddenly a little more human. A year later, Messi seems more accomplished, happier on the pitch. And that changes everything.

Leo is right in the head.“, estimated his coach Christophe Galtier, on Saturday, after his team’s 2-1 victory against the Gymnasium.”He encourages the game and is very generous. He used to score a lot of goals, but last season he had extenuating circumstances. There, he recovers the taste for the goal. He has prepared well, the relationship he has with his teammates in training suggests that he is happy and when he is happy he performs and recovers the standards he had throughout his career.

This joy of playing, Galtier is no stranger to her. The coach has placed the Argentine in the best conditions to shine on the pitch. Often confined to the right side last season, Lionel Messi is now at the heart of the Parisian offensive animation. From the magical trio formed by Neymar and Mbappé, it is from him that the creative spark springs to launch the attack on PSG. A role of facilitator that is perfectly suited to his qualities and that offers him more freedom of movement and, therefore, creativity.

Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, September 14, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

It was from one of his foot ball rides that Niçois Dante’s foul came, then Saturday’s superb free kick. The kind of breakthrough that became possible again at the end of a quiet, full preseason. “Can he be the best player in the world again? Yes, if he is in incredible shape.Christophe Galtier replied on Saturday. And he is well prepared.

The numbers are unequivocal about his participation in the game as a teacher. He hits 1.7 more passes into the opponent’s box per game, and two “progressive passes”, these transmissions that allow him to gain at least ten meters, compared to last season. It’s simple, no player in Europe does better in the five big European leagues, by far.

More present around the goal, Lionel Messi is also more dangerous. He is the player who has attempted the most shots in the five major championships this season, and the one who frames the most. Scorer in his last five games with PSG and Argentina, decisive twice in the same game in half of his official matches since the start of the season, Messi finds this statistical appetite as in his best hours in Barcelona. The one who had coughed on his debut with two goals and three assists after his first eleven games last season, in the League and in C1, already has six achievements and eight offers on the same stage in 2022.

PSG did not ask for less. A third success in three games at Benfica’s ground on Wednesday would ensure a little more Parisian activity in this first phase of the Champions League, the club’s main objective.


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