PSG signed Lionel Messi to help them go over the hump in the Champions League.
While Kylian Mbappe spared Messi from more embarrassment by giving PSG a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in the first leg of their heavyweight Round of 16 clash, the Argentine’s performance was far from impressive.
PSG dominated the game from start to finish, pinning Real Madrid deep in its own half for the duration. Mbappe finally won a penalty after an hour of toiling in front of goal.
Lionel Messi, the superstar for whom PSG paid a high price for such times, stepped up with his 126th Champions League goal on his mind. Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper for Real Madrid, had different intentions.
The Belgian saved Messi’s penalty by diving low to his left and stopping the feeble shot. At Parc des Princes, the score stayed equal, and Messi came up empty in the crucial moment for the French team. It was his first missed penalty kick conversion in his career against Real Madrid.
PSG had 61 percent possession and 16 shots to Real Madrid’s two at that moment, but the score stayed equal. Courtois had made four previous stops before the spot-kick, and Angel Di Maria had wasted a good chance early.
By far the most important moment of the match was his sixth. Messi’s penalty failure was his fifth in 23 Champions League attempts, giving him the most missed penalty shots in the competition since Opta began collecting data in 2003.
Messi’s penalties have been terrible and predictable, even for a great player like him.
Messi’s finishing touch was lacking throughout the encounter, with only two shots on target on a night when his teammates put on a display.
Mbappe and the left winger Nuno Mendes was outstanding down the left flank, with Mbappe making a fool of Real Madrid right defender Dani Carvajal throughout the game, culminating in the game-winning goal. Marco Verratti shone in midfield, masterfully controlling PSG’s possession and expertly developing play. Even Neymar, who came off the bench for the first time in months, contributed to the game, assisting on Mbappe’s late winner.
Sure, Angel Di Maria squandered an early opportunity. Sure, Mbappe’s score put PSG in command for the second leg. However, Messi’s inability to convert both from the spot and throughout the match remains the most glaring flaw in PSG’s otherwise impressive showing.
The Parisians deserved a reward for their brilliant performance, which kept Real Madrid on the back foot throughout the encounter. For lengthy periods of time, the Spanish team defended with ten men behind the ball, unable to produce a single shot on target of their own.
Despite the fact that Messi has won the Champions League four times in his brilliant career — four times more than PSG — his recent attempts in the competition have ended in disappointment. Messi has only made it to the semifinals once since winning the Champions League in 2014-15, and he has yet to return to the final.
The 34-year-old Argentine was drawn to Paris for precisely this type of encounter, with a large sum of money as the carrot. If Messi fails to deliver here, Real Madrid has a real chance to turn things around in the second leg at the Bernabeu, which would be a bad mark on Messi’s legacy.
How many penalties has Lionel Messi missed?
When the volume is large, the misses are likely to be high as well.
Lionel Messi has missed 30 penalties in his professional career for both club and country. Lionel Messi has missed five penalties in the Champions League, as noted below.
|2021||Paris Saint-Germain||Real Madrid||T. Courtois||1-0|
|2020||Barcelona||Paris Saint-Germain||K. Navas||1-1|
|2015||Barcelona||Manchester City||J. Hart||2-1|