CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Rio Ferdinand not having Messi's PSG free-kick blocker

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has questioned Mauricio Pochettino's decision to lie Lionel Messi down behind the Parisien wall.

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It may have only been Game 2 of the Champions League group stage, but a mouth-watering clash awaited us on Tuesday night in Paris as Pep Guardiola arrived with his talented Manchester City side to face an old ally, Lionel Messi, and his star-studded PSG teammates. In the end it was Messi who put the finishing touch on the result - here’s how he secured all three points - but another incident involving the Argentine superstar also got people talking.

"This doesn't happen to Messi"

Riyad Mahrez was preparing himself on the edge of the Parisien penalty area to take a free-kick. The Algerian and his dead-ball skills were key to knocking PSG out of this competition in last season’s semi-final and Mauricio Pochettino was keen to avoid that happening again. To do so, he used the diminutive forward as a low blocker behind the wall. The image of the 30-year-old lying down down behind his teammates quickly drew comment and former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who was in the BT Sport studios with old playing pal Owen Hargreaves, was one of those unhappy to see it.

"We couldn't believe it. He's one of the greatest of all time, if not the greatest,” began Hargreaves before Rio jumped in.

“The moment Mauricio Pochettino asked him to do that at the training ground someone should have gone in there and said ‘no, no, no, no, this doesn't happen to Leo Messi’.

“You can't. It's disrespectful, I wouldn't have it. If I was in that team I'd say ‘no, I'll lay down for you’. I couldn't have him laying down like that. I can't see it. He don't get his kit dirty. That's not what Messi does,” Ferdinand added.

Hakimi's run, Messi's goal

But, of course, there was also the goal to comment on and the same two ex-pros were blown away with the action that led up to and finished with Messi scoring against their former club’s rival.

“The pace, the strength, the balance and the technique to put it where he did... phenomenal,” said Ferdinand. “Hakimi's run is so important because it takes the defender away. When you've got players like Hakimi causing havoc like that it opens up the space for someone like Messi to exploit.”

Hargreaves was equally impressed.

“There was so much to like about this goal,” he began. “I love the overlap from Hakimi there, making the space. It's Messi all over.

“He would have been expecting it, he's the man for the big occasion. He always seems to score against Pep Guardiola teams for whatever reason. Today was the perfect performance from PSG. Once they got the first goal and the space opened up for Hakimi, with Messi being able to come inside and then Neymar and Mbappe are in there… it's going to be a thing of beauty.

Today they got it right and with Messi on the end of things, he's going to score a tonne of goals there.”