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Football news – Can PSG actually work with Messi, Neymar and Mbappe doing no defending?


Paris Saint-Germain’s first deployment of their new star-studded front-line ended in a disappointing draw in Bruges, with concerns raised over the work-rate of their PSG forwards.

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all started the 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League. And PSG struggled throughout to match the energy and industry shown by their opponents.

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It was a result that did not come as much of a surprise to Michael Owen, who told Rio Ferdinand and the BT Sport presenter that he saw shades of his old Real Madrid Galactico team in PSG.

I joined perhaps the greatest collection of players that’s ever been assembled when I went to Real Madrid, the likes of Ronaldo, Raul, Beckham, Figo and Zidane and all those players. We didn’t win anything.

“And it’s shaping up like that, Paris Saint-Germain,” Owen continued.

“I think when you’ve got the ball all the time it’s very easy.

“You’re so dominant in the league, and when you’re playing against someone where you don’t get the ball as much, you almost lose track of what you’re supposed to do. You are supposed to work even harder out of possession.”

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But those work-rate issues mean that Paris will not win the title for the first time this season, according to Owen.

“As much as we drool over this PSG team with those forwards – I don’t really understand why they’re one of the favourites for it [the Champions League],” Owen said.

“They’re all phenomenal players in their own right but three together makes it weaker for me.

“I think the English teams are far, far superior.

“I almost feel as though the signing of the likes of [Gianluigi] Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos gives them more of a chance of winning it than the signing of someone like Messi.”

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How can PSG fix their tactical imbalance?

One of the big tasks ahead for PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino is to make a cohesive side out of the group of players he has at his disposal.

Essentially, find a midfield that can hold it all together when there is a front-three who are going to do so little work around the park.

And Owen believes that the solution is all about industry.

“I think if you play these three forwards then you’re going to have to have dogs in there in the midfield,” he said.

“That means the likes of Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye.”

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That midfield balance will certainly be the key to Pochettino’s chances of success this season, not least how to accommodate Marco Verratti too.

“Verratti’s going to come in, and he’s the passer, he’s the person who’s going to get it to them,” Ferdinand explained. “That could be a problem as well – you’ve got to get the balance right.

You’ve got to get the ball to these boys, you don’t want people like Messi coming too deep where he’s not going to impact the game as much.

“If you get it right behind them, if you get the right mix with Verratti, Gueye, Wijnaldum, then you’ve got legs, you’ve got people who can transfer the ball through the pitch to the great players at the top who can cause the damage.

“Yes you need to get a bit of work from them at times, coming back, but I’ve seen Neymar do it. Mbappe is young enough to be able to do it, he has to.

“I just believe that Messi coming here, Mbappe will be saying ‘I’ve got to show Messi what I’m about’. Neymar, when he played at Barcelona with Messi, was a phenomenal runner off the ball.

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“You’d like to think that they can come back into their games. If it does, it’s going to be difficult for everybody else. That’s a big if.”

Neymar, Mbappé y Messi, juntos en el PSG

Image credit: Getty Images

PSG will look to answer some of the questions when they take on Lyon this weekend.

A game against one of the stronger outfits in Ligue 1 offers another chance for Pochettino to find a way to best utilise his front three.

And the next big Champions League test is under two weeks away, when Manchester City travel to Paris in one of the most anticipated matches of the competition’s group stage.

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