Paris is a city of desire and desire. And if there is something that has built up in football in the last few weeks, it was the longing for unbeatable shine. On Tuesday morning, when nothing reminded of the autumn storm on Monday and the terraces filled up with people again, it was the kiosks, for example The Parisian from, with a large photo of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, the exciting storm trio from Paris Saint-Germain, which until then had not yet matched the glamor of the capital. That still seemed to be wrapped up, as is currently the triumphal arch by the heirs of the late artist Christo.
“United for the best?” Asked the paper in large letters and decreed in the subline: “Today is the day to shine together.” Was he: Lionel Messi scored his first goal for PSG in the 2-0 win against Manchester City, and it was one of the kind to hang in the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay. Because Messi chased the ball after a sprint over half the place and a one-two with Mbappé from 16 meters under the crossbar.
It was such an original Messi that his former teacher at FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, almost resignedly turned away when the campaign was not yet over. As if it was crystal clear to him that Messi would score. Because Guardiola had seen this scene hundreds of times as a Barcelona coach. In training and in play.
“Meeeesssi, Meeeessi, Meeeesssi” hoots the audience in the Prinzenpark
The game had previously largely been able to confirm all those who see the team of Pep Guardiola as the team that was favored simply because it has been following a perfectly rehearsed script for years. The City players patiently pushed the ball to each other, mostly in half of the hosts, but without getting any chances. This was not least due to the fact that defensive midfielder Marco Verratti, who was often injured in these early weeks, made a formidable firefighter. After seven minutes, PSG came in front of the British goal – and immediately to the goal. Mbappé had stormed to the baseline and passed the ball in the back of the defense, but because a defensive leg intervened, the ball did not land at Messi as intended, but at Idrissa Gueye, the second six next to Verratti. And he scored with great conviction to make it 1-0, from seven meters into the top right corner.
The longer the game lasted and the more City seemed to be laboring with the lead, the more Neymar and Mbappé enjoyed the decorative actions, amusing and flirtatious hacking tricks and lobbing that are appreciated in the Prinzenparkstadion. The feat that City’s Kevin de Bruyne was supposed to perform after 26 minutes was like classicism to rococo. Because it was clear and structured. The Belgian stroked the ball with his outside instep into the box, but Raheem Sterling’s head hit the crossbar and the rebound landed on the crossbar after an awkward shot from Bernardo Silva. The question was whether Silva was subsequently bumped into the penalty spot by PSG defender Kimpembe – city coach Guardiola protested vehemently. On the other hand, City’s goalkeeper came into focus once more when Mbappé put back on midfielder Ander Herrera and the Spaniard pulled from 18 meters.
After the break, the picture was similar to that before the half-time whistle: De Bruyne found the game better – and almost made it 1-1 in the 54th minute. But PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was also brilliant in other situations, parried the Belgian’s shot.
But then came the appearance of Lionel Messi, who made the evening in Paris unforgettable for 47,000 spectators in the sold-out Prinzenparkstadion with an act of almost incomparable art. “Meeeesssi, Meeeessi, Meeeesssi” hooted the audience, just as the fans of FC Barcelona had done at the Camp Nou stadium until last summer. It seems that the Argentine has really found a new home.