PARIS, France, March 14 – Lionel Messi’s difficult start to life at Paris Saint-Germain took a dive this week as the French giants pulled out of the Champions League before their fans mocked the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner on Sunday.
Here, AFP Sport look back at Messi’s fleeting shining moments and the most frequent difficult moments since leaving Barcelona for Paris last year:
First goal against Man City
– Messi scored his first goal for PSG in their first big game of the season against Manchester City. He had failed to score in his first three appearances but came through in style at the Parc des Princes. After surging from the halfway line, Messi exchanged passes with Kylian Mbappe and fired a brilliant shot into the net.
Late magic beats Leipzig
– Messi’s best moments for PSG came in the Champions League, despite their early exit. There were times when their campaign looked like it could end even earlier, like when they trailed RB Leipzig at home in the group stage. But Messi scored twice in seven second-half minutes, including the winner from the penalty spot, to salvage a 3-2 victory.
Hat-trick of assists
– When the Argentine first joined PSG, most people didn’t expect three assists against Ligue 1 struggling Saint-Etienne to feature on a list of his highlights. But he produced an excellent performance on a snowy night in Saint-Etienne and has the most assists in the French top flight this season, tied on 10 with Mbappe.
Waiting for the first league goal
08/29/2021 – 11/20/2021
– Messi had to wait until November to score his first league goal for PSG. He finally came in a 3-1 home win over Nantes, having failed to score in games against Reims, Lyon, Rennes, Marseille and Lille.
First defeat against Rennes
– PSG struggled to score goals at the start of the season when Messi was in the squad, and that problem was evident in a 2-0 loss at Rennes. Messi, Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria all started but Mauricio Pochettino’s men failed to even register a shot on target.
– The holders were expelled from the Coupe de France by Nice as Messi made his first start since contracting Covid-19 in Argentina. After the sides’ second goalless draw this season, loanee Marcin Bulka made the decisive save in the shootout for Nice, against their parent club.
Missed penalty against Real Madrid
– Although PSG’s Champions League debacle of 2022 will be remembered for Madrid’s second leg collapse, Messi’s missed penalty in the opener was a highlight. His kick was saved by Thibaut Courtois in the 62nd minute, and although Mbappe’s brilliant goal secured a late 1-0 win, it proved crucial in the draw.
Champions League release
– Messi and PSG’s difficult season received a fatal blow as they capitulated at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After leading 2-0 on aggregate with less than half an hour remaining, Karim Benzema’s hat-trick put PSG on course for a maiden Champions League title.
The way the French giants imploded was reminiscent of their spectacular round of 16 defeats in 2017 and 2019 to Barcelona and Manchester United respectively.
– The Parisian supporters expressed their feelings during the team’s next match after the Madrid debacle. Messi and Neymar were held partly responsible and the subject of teasing and whistling in a mere 3-0 victory over bottom club Bordeaux on Sunday at the Parc des Princes.