Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – on paper, PSG has the best attack in the world. However, the trio interaction hasn’t really worked so far. But what are the reasons?
Messi made a mistake?
The match against Olympique de Marseille (0-0) last Sunday reveals the incompetence of the three so far. Messi in particular is lagging behind. This also has tactical reasons for the team: in the 4-3-3 system favored by coach Mauricio Pochettino, Messi plays on the right wing.
The Argentine has firmly held his position against Marseille – something unusual for Messi. The great footballing qualities of the world footballer have rarely appeared six times abroad. The 34-year-old lacked the pace of the past days. The tracks from the right wing towards the opposing goal are too far for Messi, who has so far not been able to bring his fairly large strength profitably to PSG.
At Barcelona, La Pulga enjoyed all the freedom in the attacking game before his move. Even if a talented left-end man sometimes acted nominally on the right, he always moved to the middle. Pochettino doesn’t give him these freedoms as much, which is one reason why Messi – as he did against Marseille – sometimes hides in matches. Zero participation in four league matches speaks for itself, with Messi scoring only three times in the Champions League. Unusually weak numbers for an outstanding technician.
Neymar is out of shape
Also, Neymar, a friend of Messi, is currently lagging behind. One goal and two assists are scored after eight competitive matches this season – a manageable result. At the start of the season, the 29-year-old returned from the Copa America with a lack of training and a significant weight gain. The exceptional Brazilian talent still gives the impression that he suffers from a physical disability.
Like Messi, Neymar, unlike his previous time at Barcelona, has his strengths mainly in the dozens. As a classic winger, Neymar once created the space needed for Messi at Barcelona, who repeatedly played as a stealth ten and dominated the midfield. Today, the playing styles and strengths of both are similar and therefore they do not complement each other as organically as when they were together in Catalonia.
Where is Mbappe’s future?
The only player currently playing at the normal level is Kylian Mbappe. Unlike his partners, the Frenchman played every match in the league and in the first division. In 14 matches, the 22-year-old scored 14 goals (six goals, eight assists). But there are problems here, too. The striker liked to turn his back on Paris in the summer. The dream destination is Real Madrid. After the season ends, Mbappe can leave the French national team for free because his contract expires. Communication between the three attackers is currently limited.
So all eyes are now on Pochettino, who has to find a system that highlights MNM’s strengths. At the same time, he must give the Three Fine Minds the necessary tactical freedom in order to optimally integrate the intuitive playful class. For it to work as well as it did between Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez (who worked together for Barcelona from 2014 to 2017), a lot has to happen. In addition, the ego of the three actors also stands in the way of a more harmonious synthesis.
Too much selfishness?
Pochettino had Messi named the deserving winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or, something Neymar and Mbappe shouldn’t have been excited about, according to the coach: “They had a problem with her and asked why not”Pochettino said after the first match against Marseille.
A few weeks ago, Mbappe was seen mourning after his substitution against Montpellier (2-0) because Neymar rarely played with him. On the other hand, Neymar should not be enthusiastic about the declared intention to change his teammate. Thus, there are currently many question marks about the extraordinary attack of the Parisians – on the square and next to it.
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