Messi: a Covid that questions
During his last tenure, Lionel Messi achieved a promising performance which suggested his rise to power after a start on tiptoe.
But, problem, since this match in Lorient (1-1) on December 22, the Argentinian has disappeared from the “eleven”, due to contamination with Covid-19 during the holidays which broke his rhythm.
“He told me that it affected him a lot. He had the most virulent strain,” Albiceleste coach Lionel Scaloni said on Thursday. The « Pulga », after missing three games, played 30 minutes against Reims (4-0) on January 23, long enough to deliver an assist.
The round of 16 of the Coupe de France will deliver a new indication of his physical condition – a key for PSG, which will depend on the exploits of its N.30 to try to eliminate Real.
“’Leo’ has been training well this week. He is in condition to start the game tomorrow (Monday),” his coach Mauricio Pochettino said on Sunday.
Game: it’s progressing but…
In recent weeks, Pochettino, the target of recurring criticism of his team’s level of play, has had the luxury of being able to work in depth. Promotional tour in Qatar canceled, light schedule, absence of controversy despite the transfer window, Sergio Ramos who plays and scores… The month of January was unusually serene at the club.
The great success against Reims, which followed that against Brest (2-0), confirmed the Argentinian technician on the quality of the « yield », a word which is dear to him, of his players – despite a tasteless first period against the Champenois.
“We had a good week of training, which made it easier for us to work on aspects for which we usually have less time, such as physique and tactics. We hope that this work will be reflected in the next matches,” said “Pocket”.
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Paris must now submit its progress to a stricter teacher than Reims: Nice represents the ideal test. Second in Ligue 1, the Aiglons came to take a point at the Parc (0-0) on December 1.
Until the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League, PSG must also face Lille and Rennes (in addition to a possible quarter of the Cup). This is where its rise to power will be judged.
Squad: the Ramos tile
“We are going to be dealing with a team which, even if it is diminished, is very competitive and is used to often going to the end in this competition”, recognized Nice coach Christophe Galtier on Saturday.
Between the African Cup of Nations and the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Central and South America, seven executives are indeed missing, including Captain Marquinhos, Achraf Hakimi, Keylor Navas and Angel di Maria.
To make the shock against the « Gym » a life-size rehearsal of Real, it will therefore be necessary to go back, especially since there are also injured people, in this case Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum, who hope to be available in two weeks.
But also Sergio Ramos, hit in a calf on Thursday. This is a blow for the club which was delighted after the last promising outings of the Spanish defender.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, hit in the calf, should however hold his place.
Such absences deprive Pochettino of opportunities to fine-tune the settings in competition. But at least he knows that his workforce should not move by the end of the winter transfer window, Monday at midnight.
« I expect nothing, » said the coach, now focused on the essentials: the field.