The much-hyped trio of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar failed to inspire Paris Saint-Germain to victory in its Champions League opener on Wednesday, with the French side being held to a 1-1 draw by Club Brugge.
Messi was playing the 150th Champions League game of his career – and his first for PSG – but the Ligue 1 side failed to click in what proved to be a tricky away game in Belgium.
With its electric attacking trio of stars, the Parisians were firm favorites going into the tie and took an expected lead through Ander Herrera after 15 minutes.
But the hosts hit back before the half an hour mark, with Hans Vanaken scoring a deserved equalizer.
Brugge then had chances to win the match and managed to keep Messi and his fellow stars quiet for most of the game – although the Argentine did hit the crossbar with a trademark shot from distance.
“Nobody in the team can be happy with their performance and nobody can be happy with this result,” PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino told reporters after the match.
“We came here to take points. All the points. Hats off to Club Brugge. They wanted it more than us tonight and they deserve the point.”
Many at the club hoped Messi would be the missing piece of the puzzle in PSG’s hunt for a Champions League trophy but it seems the side is still a work in progress.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner showed glimpses of magic but the side looked like a team of individuals rather than a cohesive unit.
“We need time to work for them to build an understanding,” Pochettino said, speaking about Messi, Neymar and Mbappé.
“That’s been clear and we’ve said that in recent days. We still have to create a team.”
The night got even more disappointing for PSG when Mbappé limped off injured just six minutes into the second half.
The 22-year-old was tended to by medical staff before hobbling off the pitch with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Manchester City excel
While PSG struggled, Manchester City excelled in a classic Champions League encounter against RB Leipzig.
Pep Guardiola’s side won 6-3 in a scintillating performance but he may be concerned by the amount of goals the defense leaked at the Etihad Stadium.
Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for the German side but City’s forwards made amends with goals from Nathan Ake, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, João Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus all adding to an own goal scored by Nordi Mukiele.
“Leipzig never give up. They have a special way to attack. They play all or nothing,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the match.
“You never have the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored and it helped us a lot.
“They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football. The quality of [our] players was better today and that’s why we won.”
Grealish, the $138 million summer signing, looked the best of City’s attacking talent as the Englishman showed why the club invested so heavily in him.
His creativity from out wide was a major part of his team’s success and bodes well with Guardiola bidding to finally win the Champions League trophy at City.