Reims vs PSG, Messi debut summary: score, goals, highlights, Ligue 1
Reims 0-2 PSG: as it happened
Lionel Messi made his much-anticipated Ligue 1 debut for Paris St Germain on Sunday but it was Kylian Mbappé who shone as the capital club maintained their perfect start to the season with a 2-0 victory at Stade de Reims.
Mbappé gave PSG a taste of what they would be missing if he left for Real Madrid, who have made bids to recruit the France striker since Messi joined on a two-year deal from Barcelona.
PSG are top of the standings with a maximum 12 points.
All 20,545 tickets available were sold at the Auguste Delaune stadium to see 34-year-old Messi play and the fans, who chanted the Argentina forward's name, were rewarded in the 66th minute when he replaced the disappointing Neymar.
Mbappé did not disappoint though in a brilliant performance, seemingly unfazed by the transfer frenzy surrounding him.
Two days before the end of the window, the 22-year-old made the difference with his speed and sense of timing, opening the scoring with a header and rounding off with a clinical finish.
After a stuttering start, PSG got into their groove and Mbappé put them a head after 15 minutes by heading home from Angel Di Maria's cross.
PSG somehow got too comfortable and Reims started to apply some pressure, with Moreto Cassama's superb strike hitting Keylor Navas's crossbar three minutes before the break.
Reims celebrated what they thought was a Marshall Munetsi equaliser five minutes into the second half, only for the Zimbabwean's effort to be ruled out for offside.
Messi started to warm up after 57 minutes, drawing applause from the Reims supporters, whom he saluted.
They sang his name just when he was about to come on, shortly after Mbappé had doubled PSG's advantage from Achraf Hakimi's cross at the end of a sharp counter attack.
Mbappé combined with Messi, but the former Barcelona striker was not in the same condition as the Frenchman, having not played a competitive game since winning the Copa America with Argentina on 10 July.
Other Ligue 1 results
Earlier, French champions Lille finally got their title defence going with a 2-1 home win over Montpellier and surprise package Angers beat visiting Stade Rennes 2-0 to go second on 10 points.
Lille celebrated their first league win of the season thanks to goals from Yusuf Yazici and Jonathan David. Montpellier ended the match with 10 men after defender Junior Sambia was sent off late in the second half.
Promoted Clermont Foot continued to impress as they kept their unbeaten record intact after fighting back from two goals down in a 2-2 home draw with Metz. They are third on eight points from their first four matches. (Reuters)
Messi was the one on most people's lips coming into this game but, unless you're reading this because you clicked on the wrong link, Mbappé has also been getting rather a lot of attention.
Real Madrid may be willing to throw an extra few million euros onto the table to get him into their side before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.
Peep. Peep. Peeeeep! It's all over.
A double from Mbappé and a debut from Messi. Just what they Qatari doctor ordered.
This game is now just rolling to its inevitable conclusion. As I say that, Mitchell van Bergen decides to take matters into his own feet, drives down the inside right channel and drills a powerful low effort towards goal.
Navas, who has had a few dodgy moments, is behind it to deflect away well.
Gravillon is well forward for the hosts and it takes a finely timed challenge from Kimpembe to cancel out his intentions. Good finish to this game from Reims, who can be proud of their efforts today.
Free-kick chance for PSG and despite other potential takers, Paredes steps up. Straight into wall.
Mbappé collects the ball on the left and, with passing openings limited, cuts inside and tries his hat-trick luck. More great blocking keeps the score as is.
We've still got six minutes to play
Reims are still fighting for every ball and have been close to creating an opportunity or two in the last few minutes. That final pass or, more critically, that final decision just not right.
Paredes is the latest into the book.
Worth noting that the Reims players are not at all fussed about Messi's stature in the Beautiful Game's history. They are grabbing, pushing and pulling at him whenever possible.
Welcome to France, Leo!
Mbappé's smile was quickly wiped off his face by the recently introduced Ekitike, who clattered the Frenchman as he tried to skip away through the centre.
There were a number of club chairman wincing at that challenge along with the player himself. Yellow card.
Mbappé with a hearty laugh in the direction of referee Francois Letexier after being penalised for a foul in the middle of the park.
At least he's smiling.
Reims: Touré OFF, Ekitike ON
PSG: Di Maria OFF, Draxler ON
Navas is almost in trouble, and it was of his own doing, racing out to win a 50:50 and only just getting away with it.
It's the first dribble of note in a PSG shirt for Messi, who tries to open up three defenders and then lays the ball into the path of Mbappé passing him on the right.
The French star has time to look up and appears to be fixated on feeding it back to his new teammate to score. There were just too many red and white shirts in the way.
Reims: Berisha OFF, Flips ON
PSG: Diallo and Verratti OFF, Kimpembe and Paredes ON
From the deadball Reims work it to Berisha who is slightly off balance when he strikes. Another corner though, and the crowd noise goes up a level.
Nothing comes of it.
A small period of pressure here for the hosts, with Kebbal getting a shot away from inside the PSG area. It's deflected away for a corner.
Lopy is OFF, replaced by Van Bergen
Chance here for Reims to deliver into the box from a free-kick on the right...
Straight through into the arms of Keylor Navas. What a waste.
We've had a slight pause in play for an injury but now PSG start a slow, measured build up across the middle of the park.
Messi immediately takes up a place in the centre, possibly as a false nine.
Messi and Herrerra ON, Neymar and Wijnaldum OFF
So we won't see that MNM trident, today.
And if that goal wasn't bad enough, here comes Messi.
GOAL!! Mbappé at the double
Clearly that was going to happen after my previous comment. What a ball in from Hakimi who scampered away down the right flank.
Navas back in action, diving sharply down to his right to stop a low drive from Lopy. The Costa Rican gathers at the second attempt.
PSG not proving as dominant in this half.
Verratti loves a challenge. Another rough one from the midfielder gives away a foul, and he should remember he's already been carded.
Mbappé sprints off down the centre and the cross in from deep on the left almost finds him.
Good defending sees it clear.
There's a bit of a murmur going around one part of the stadium. Oh, a certain Argentine has been sent to warm up.
Diallo joins Verratti in the refs notepad after a rather rough challenge.
He's still warming the bench.
NO GOAL!! The fans are gutted but it seemed the right decision from what I could see.
PSG can count themselves lucky.
Wait! VAR is having a look. Potential offside...
Replay to me would suggest this is getting ruled out...
GOAL!! Reims have levelled things up
Munetsi is fastest to the fumbled save from Navas and knocks the ball home for an unlikely start to the half.
I should have mentioned, there were two changes at the break for Reims:
Cassama and Mbuku OFF, Locko and Berisha ON
Immediately PSG are on the attack and a swift control and firm pass from Mbappé finds Neymar on the edge of the Reims area. He rolls the ball back gently for Gueye to hit but, as I've said many times tonight, it's blocked.
Peep! Back in action as PSG kick-off...again (after the silliness from Reims at the start of the game)
Many tuned in to see Messi's debut for PSG and we expect that will come over the coming 45 minutes, but even without the magical Argentine, the capital side were far superior in that first half.
Reims started well, and for the first 10-15 minutes matched their more illustrious guests. Then Verratti started to take control of the midfield allowing play to build ahead of him.
The front line of Neymar, Mbappé and Di Maria was always threatening to make something happen and the Argentine's delicious cross onto the French striker's head is what separates the teams on the scoreboard.
In truth, there's a much more sizeable difference on the pitch.
Peep! The first half comes to an end.
The corner is dealt with and that should be the final play of the half.
One of those lovely flowing moves in the offing here as Mbappé through the centre slides the ball wide to Di Maria and takes his place in the area.
The return from the Argentine is blocked away for a corner.
We'll have one additional minute here.
How Verratti has escaped a yellow there, I have no idea. Right through the back of Kebbal.
Oh wait, ref took his time but eventually pulled out the card.
More action for Navas to deal with. Cassama with an audacious effort from the edge of the area which the PSG stopper appeared (to me, at least) to touch around the bar-post combo.
Goal kick given. From the replay it just clipped the top of the post.
Navas called into action, after watching calmly for the last 15 minutes or so. Kebbal with the dangerous cross.
Tremendous defending from Abdelhamid stops another PSG attack at pace. The home side started with a bang, and pressing high but have now settled into a much more counter-attacking formation. Not a bad idea.
Hakimi gets involved now, taking on his marker at pace down the left wing. He can't quite reach his knock ahead and in the process catches his opponent. Foul.
Neymar dribbles his way into the opposition area and his effort is blocked, but it drops perfectly to Mbappé who hits it first time. Again alert defending means there is a body in the way.
It's all PSG now.
Neymar is bundled over by Touré and the ref is quick to blow up. The Reims man doesn't seem to agree with the decision, but it's the right one.
Something you love to see, Kylian Mbappé stepping away from a player then turning on the afterburners.
Only a heavy touch killed that from being a real problem for Reims, and the ball runs through harmlessly to Rajkovic.
Three or four crosses are delivered from either side in quick succession from PSG as they look to get this game won early.
Reims defence stands strong for each of them, getting good clearing headers away.
Lopy gets a knock after an innocuous challenge with Neymar. He gets some treatment and limps off for more treatment.
Another of the new signings, the man who served Liverpool so well, Wijnaldum, gets a brief glimpse of goal and tries his luck. The brevity can't be overstated, however, as red and white shirts close ranks and block well.
Di Maria is back dancing into space on his right wing, this time though he can't clip in a cross and the build-up starts again.
GOAL!! Mbappé heads home
What a cross from Di Maria, wide on the right, and the French forward wins the battle around the six-yard box to leave Rajkovic stranded.
A fantastic through ball catches out the PSG defence and Touré latches on to it, just to the right of Navas' goal. He strikes hard, but completely fluffs his lines, slicing it horribly wide.
More pressure on the home goal, as Hakimi swings in a lovely cross and Gueye gets a shot away. What follows can only be described as pinball, with the defence finally getting the ball cleared.
Mbappé goes close
First real shot in anger and it's their young superstar who's at the heart of it, eventually firing hard from a tight angle. Just wide, but better from PSG.
Neymar tries to create something on the left edge of the Reims area but he's not given any space and the hosts come away with the ball again. High intensity from the start is clearly the plan.
Gueye hard in there and the whistle is blown. PSG really struggling to make anything happen, and a long ball over their defence almost undoes them.
Brilliant start from Óscar García's players.
First real attack threatened from the visitors as Brylcreem-laden Di Maria sprints down the right wing. His options are quickly closed down, however, and PSG are forced to head away from goal.
Neymar tries a few dummy passes out on the wing but Foket is having none of it.
The ball then works its way back into the midfield and good pressure gets the red and white shirts back in control.
Almost a decent opportunity opening up for Reims as an interception is made with the high press. Ref blows for a foul though, and they're not happy.
Some nice early possession from the home side has the crowd easily excited. Reims know that there is a global focus on this game but they'll want to show that they're not just here to make up the numbers.
Peep! We're underway...
Although at the second attempt after Reims double touch the kick-off.
OK, warm-ups and pleasantries out of the way. Let's get our game faces on...
Reims or Reims?
Don't worry Tom, I promise all my readers that I'll get it right every time.
It's clearly, "Reims"
The players are getting themselves ready for kick-off, and it's worth remembering that their wantaway striker just can't help being decisive.
I can't see him not repeating that again tonight.
Reims vs PSG: head-to-head
Last time out between these two sides it ended 4-0 to the Parisiens.
PSG have, expectedly, also been the dominant side over recent years, winning nine of the 14 played.
How they stand: PSG
Three wins from three have last year's runners-up off and running, and another win tonight will take them back above current top team, Angers.
Fans will be expecting more goals after back-to-back 4-2 victories over Strasbourg and Brest.
And it's not as if they have any potential new super sub on the bench.
How they stand: Reims
It's been a full run of draws in these early games for tonight's hosts and those three points has them coming into this fixture in 15th place.
Munetsi was their only scorer last time out but the strikes from Cozza, Delort and Laborde in the six-goal thriller against Montpellier will have fans more hopeful.
A share of the spoils tonight would be a very pleasing outcome.
Messi, in training, is unbelievable. The teams he plays for always win. It has been a luxury to have him at Barça for so many years. The French league, which is more physical, is going to take him a bit more time to acclimatize to, but he'll get there.
I would bet my house that he will score a goal today.
Messi home debut?
CBS' France-based soccer correspondent, Jonathan Johnson, reminds us that Messi's expected home appearance against Clermont may not be so obvious.
Playing against Messi , Neymar and Mbappé? It would be a miracle not to concede a single goal from these three stars.
Starting XI: PSG
Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kehrer, Diallo; Verratti, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Di Maria, Mbappé, Neymar
Starting XI: Reims
Rajkovic; Gravillon, Faes, Abdelhamid; Foket, Munetsi, Cassama, Lopy; Kebbal, Touré, Mbuku
Team news is in... home side first up
Stade de Reims who?
OK, with all the attention on the Parisien superstars - hands up if you came here for anything else... yeah, didn't think so - we must remember that it takes two games to make a football match.
Reims' social media team have reminded us of the day they held a Zlatan-led PSG, back in the 2014/15 season.
Is this what you came for?
It's just a shirt. Seriously, though, had you said just a few weeks ago that we'd be seeing this then few would have believed you.
How must Barcelona fans be feeling right now? And maybe of more interest, how are the Messi-first fans feeling having to switch teams. Crazy modern fans!
Mbappé: what's all the fuss about anyway?
Oh, there's that, I suppose!
Mbappé: what's all the fuss about anyway?
Oh, there's that, I suppose!
It is possible that tonight we will see this incredible trio playing alongside each other tonight, with our sources saying that Messi will begin on the bench, though, it may be that this spectacle is saved for the home debut.
Although Madrid’s push to get the Mbappé deal over the line before Tuesday’s transfer deadline continues, they had been keen to complete it before today, removing any chance of the image of the MNM celebrating together. That picture could be too much for the Qatari owners to break up, especially with one eye on the World Cup in their country next year.
Optics are powerful.
As well as Messi’s likely debut - remember too that this will in essence be a warm-up debut before his Parc des Princes introduction in front of tens of thousands of PSG fans - another story that has since dominated the headlines is that of Kylian Mbappé. And it ain’t over yet.
The open desire from Real Madrid to sign the French star has been going on for years, and Mbappé himself has been clear of his wish to play in the famous white shirt. His refusal to extend his current contract in Paris - six attempts have been made - has always suggested that it was a matter of when not if he’d move to the Spanish capital.
We’ve even been keeping a live feed going on his, and other, developments.
Fans wait to glimpse Messi
They really, really want to see him pull on the shirt and score some goals but for the time being the sight of him stepping off the bus in his pre-game clobber will suffice.
Let’s start the build-up with the story that has caught the footballing world’s attention this summer, the transfer of arguably the greatest player ever to have stepped onto a pitch from Barcelona to PSG. Actually, it wasn’t really a transfer at all.
Messi’s contract at the Catalan club had ended, he was, remarkably, a free agent, and the ambitious Parisien giants couldn’t believe their luck as Barça’s finance mismanagement over the years finally caught up with them.
So, the move was rumoured about, many dismissed them, and then it happened. Pen, paper, handshake.
Reims vs PSG : welcome
Hello and welcome to you for what should be a historic night in Ligue 1. The big dogs of French football - one of the biggest dogs of world football - take the trip to Reims in the fourth game of the 2021/22 campaign, and more than the usual audience are tuning in to find out if Lionel Messi will make his debut for them.
Of course, seeing the man that most people believed would never wear another top level shirt to that of FC Barcelona is one thing. But there are so many other narratives to this match.
Stay with me and I’ll keep you across the main news before getting stuck into the game itself. Our build-up starts here…