Monday, October 18, 2021

Anelka fears star-packed PSG could face Champions League group-stage exit

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Sep 2021

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Nicolas Anelka fired a warning that darker days could lie ahead after Paris Saint-Germain fell flat against Club Brugge despite fielding Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the starting line-up.

The disappointment of a 1-1 draw in Belgium was compounded by an ankle injury sustained by Mbappe that forced the France forward off early in the second half.

PSG were out-shot 16-9 by Club Brugge, with Messi having three attempts but proving unable to mark his 150th Champions League appearance with what would have been a 121st goal in the competition.

Messi had never previously played against a Belgian side in the competition, scoring against teams from all 17 other nations he has faced. The closest he came was when he struck the crossbar in the 29th minute.

Neymar did not take a shot, while Mbappe had only one attempt before being substituted.

“It is the PSG that we do not want to see,” Anelka said, speaking to French broadcaster RMC Sport.

“Nothing. There was nothing, except for the first 15 minutes. But apart from that, there was no intensity. We did not see anything offensively, it will be complicated.”

The star attacking trio may take time to become a cohesive threat, given playing together is so very new, but head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to return PSG to winning ways.

Manchester City visit Paris on September 28, and Anelka is already worried about the Parisians’ prospects of finishing in the top two in Group A.

“If they play like that, it will not be possible,” said former PSG and City striker Anelka.

The result on Wednesday evening means Messi has gone four consecutive Champions League games without enjoying a win (D2 L2). Only between March 2006 and February 2007 has he gone longer without a victory in the competition, then experiencing a run of five with Barcelona around the outset of his career.

Pochettino saw the performance of his team rather differently to Anelka’s viewpoint.

“The problem today wasn’t our three attackers,” Pochettino said. “We just had to be more solid in both penalty areas but I’m happy with the defensive performance of our attackers.”

The PSG boss defended Messi’s performance, saying of the former Barcelona captain: “When you don’t win, people try to put the focus on the less positive aspects.

“But I’m happy with his performance in terms of his spirit and attitude but also in terms of his adaptation to the team. It is clear that none of us is happy today as here at PSG we want to win every game and then also play well.”

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