Lionel Messi’s full debut for PSG ended in a tame 1-1 draw with Club Brugge, while Ander Herrera proving to be shining light.
The game was a great example of expectations versus reality, as viewing fans worldwide might feel a sense of disappointment. The full debut of Lionel Messi was the key subject in the build-up, along with the Argentine’s potentially lethal partnership with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, which failed to spark.
PSG came into this clash as overwhelming favourites and started the game brightly. The reward came around the 15th minute mark for their efforts when Ander Herrera’s smart finish gave the away side the lead. Messi was beginning to wield his influence in the game, and Club Brugge equalised around the 27th minute through captain Hans Vanaken and held on till the final whistle to earn a point.
PSG held the lion’s share in possession, holding 64% of the ball, and yet, with the fabled frontline, could not break down a resilient Brugge defence. The result may not be as bad as it seems, but the Belgian club were considered beatable on paper.
Considering the quality of teams in Group A, with Manchester City and RB Leipzig the others, PSG have to win against them both later in the tournament. Man City already are sitting top of Group A after an emphatic victory over Leipzig, and if PSG fails to get results against both those teams, they might be in trouble. Here’s how PSG players fared against a resilient Club Brugge side.
Keylor Navas: 6.5/10
Despite PSG’s dominance on the ball, Navas was kept busy by Club Brugge attackers throughout the night. While he couldn’t do much about Vanaken’s strike, the Costa Rican made at least two crucial saves in the first half. As PSG attackers failed to find a way through the Belgian side’s defence, Navas’ second-half saves might have been instrumental in earning his side the solitary point.
Achraf Hakimi: 5.5/10
Renowned for his attacking style of play, Hakimi did not disappoint. Making many forward runs, the Morrocan went about terrorising the opposition defence. However, when it came to protecting his side, Hakimi was culpable in being out of position to allow the cross in, leading to Club Brugge’s equaliser. He needs to improve on his defensive side of things.
PSG’s best defensive outlet made some important clearances that prevented the opposition from scoring more goals on the evening. However, for the equaliser, Marquinhos could have done better to prevent the cross. Otherwise a pretty solid display from the Brazilian.
Presnel Kimpembe: 4.5/10
A slight lapse in concentration from Kimpembe resulted in the goal. Kimpembe’s movements allowed Vanaken a free run into the box. The resulting shot deflected off Kimpembe’s leg as he tried to block it, and the timing was crucial here. Moreover, he looked shaky and error-prone all evening, and if these displays continue, it won’t take time for Sergio Ramos to take his place.
Abou Diallo: 6/10
Defensively, Diallo was solid enough to keep things quiet on his side. He made some decent passing moves and provided the key pass for Mbappe to assist Herrera. However, Diallo could have done much more than just being a bystander if closely looked at the equalising goal.
Leandro Paredes: 4/10
Brugge midfielders overran Paredes as the Argentine had no control whatsoever in the central area. The midfielder was a total disappointment alongside some other PSG stars. He was lucky to be on the pitch after a rash challenge in the 12th minute that blatantly prevented a possible Brugge goal.
Ander Herrera: 8/10
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 15, 2021
Stealing Messi’s thunder was one thing, personally dominating play was another, as Herrera looked every bit the man in charge for PSG. Scored his side’s only goal, with a well-taken finish, while having 90% pass accuracy, winning at least 7 duels and making 3 tackles successfully — Midfield boss.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 4/10
Not the debut to remember for Wijnaldum as he looked nervous all evening. He had a 93% pass accuracy, but apart from that, he did nothing to justify his selection in the lineup. Hooked off at half-time.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
Not a bad full debut, but still far from Messi’s standards. Had plenty of chances to either score or assist. Almost set up Mbappe in the first half before hitting the bar with a shot. In the second half, he could have scored from his trademark position but overhit his shot. The wait continues for Messi’s first goal contribution.
😮 Tuesday: Young Boys 2-1 Man Utd
😮 Wednesday: Club Brugge 1-1 PSG
Not what Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had in mind. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/aVBJ3gVs5H
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) September 15, 2021
In terms of effort, Neymar could have got a higher rating but was ineffective all evening. Failed to create a chance or shot while being dispossessed at least four times. It looked like he was eager to make something but miserably failed to spark anything of substance.
Kylian Mbappe: 7/10
Mbappe went off injured in the second half after a scintillating display in attack where he was very active. Created the goal for Herrera with a fizzing run on the left side to skip past a defender. He should have scored from Messi’s chance and looked lively all evening only to be stopped by a rash challenge that resulted in his substitution.
Julian Draxler: 5/10
He came on at half-time to replace the out-of-sorts Wijnaldum, but Draxler failed to inspire his side. He couldn’t produce anything meaningful in the final third and opted to make rather simple passes.
Danilo Pereira: 6/10
After Perreira came on at half-time for Paredes, PSG seemed to have gained some control in midfield. The Portuguese was sound defensively and should have started the game ahead of the Argentine.
Mauro Icardi: 6/10
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) September 15, 2021
He looked like an improved player from last season as he got into intelligent positions of scoring. He was provided with two great chances and scuppered both attempts from close range.
Nuno Mendes: 5/10
Mendes came on for Diallo in an attempt to add to the attack. He couldn’t inspire his side, barring a few moments where he looked threatening.