It was billed as the most expensive football match in the world — the $1.10 billion squad value of PSG against the $1.16 billion of Manchester City. There was also the subplot of the most expensive transfer of the summer, City’s Jack Grealish at $135.5 million, versus PSG’s acquisitions of Lionel Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Achraf Hakimi. All five started.
So it only made sense that the opening 73 minutes of Tuesday’s Champions League match was dominated by the home side’s hard-working midfield at the Parc des Princes.
Marco Verratti, Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye worked tirelessly to nullify City’s world beaters, and Gueye’s opener for PSG in the eighth-minute was a fitting representation of the performance of Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
When PSG had possession it tended to be on the left-hand side, where Gueye combined with Neymar and both Verratti and Kylian Mbappé offered support. The task was more thankless on the right, but both Herrera and Lionel Messi went about their defensive duties with diligence.
On the CBS broadcast the commentators began wondering what score L'Équipe would give Messi — he’d been exceedingly quiet as we approached the final 15 minutes.
But then, with one drive at the defense and an exchange of passes with Mbappé, the Argentine maestro put the game to bed with a left-footed pop from 18 yards out that left Ederson stranded to the spot.
It’s Messi’s first for PSG after failing to score in his first three appearances.
LEO MESSI SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL FOR PSG pic.twitter.com/loIXhBzESC— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 28, 2021
To Ray Hudson for more.
a goal so sublime you can feel your soul banging on ya ribcage screaming to be let out #Messi #PSGMANCITY— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson) September 28, 2021
It was only a matter of time before Messi arrived, but PSG's midfield wasn't supposed to be looking this good until 2022 at the earliest.