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A year to forget for PSG

Messi has been singled out in France and has yet to sign a contract extension at the club.

París (Francia)
A year to forget for PSG

PSG suffered yet another defeat on Sunday, their seventh of the season, and their first at home in Ligue 1 for two years. The loss came against Rennes at the Parc des Princes on a day when Lionel Messi was booed by some sections of the ground.

The PSG players look like they just want the season to end. The PSG ultras, the Virage Auteuil, only applauded Kylian Mbappé before the match against Rennes - he remains their golden boy. Messi, on the other hand, has been singled out in France, and has yet to sign a contract extension at the club. He could be closer to leaving than to staying.

PSG lost to Lens on 1 January and, although that setback was seen as ‘normal’, more poor results followed. On 15 January they lost 1-0 to Rennes at Roazhon Park and then, on 29 January, conceded a last-minute equaliser against Will Still’s Reims. The exhaustion of the World Cup was evident and the lack of squad depth meant it was the beginning of the end of the 2022-23 campaign in Paris. Champions League disappointment was just around the corner.

The Champions League was too much for Christophe Galtier’s men. Before the doubleheader against Bayern Munich, the Ligue 1 leaders suffered two more defeats. They lost 2-1 to Marseille in the last 16 of the Coupe de France and bowed out of a competition that should have qualified them for the final rounds simply on the basis of the team they have. A few days later, against Monaco, Mbappé and Co were beaten 3-1, a result that provoked tension in the dressing room.

Neymar argument

In addition to the anger of the ultras, who whistled the players, there was also an argument between Neymar and Luis Campos in the dressing room. The Brazilian, injured until the end of the season due to ligament damage in his right ankle, criticised the Portuguese for his inability to succeed in the transfer window. The new signings have not been up to scratch and Neymar, to the surprise of the dressing room, argued angrily with Campos for several minutes.

PSG reality check

PSG tried to sort out their problems, but it was too late. In the Bayern match in Paris, Galtier blamed the performance on Mbappé not being at 100 percent for the tie. He was not wrong, because the French international’s introduction in the second half changed the game and he could even have struck home the equaliser, but his goal was disallowed for offside by Nuno Mendes.

The club then decided to pull out all the stops. The heroic 4-3 comeback against Lille on 19 February revitalised the spirit in the dressing room. The 3-0 win over Marseille, just before the trip to Munich, looked like the turning point to turn the tie around. But Bayern were superior and Julian Nagelsmann got his tactics spot-on. The German side defeated PSG 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, taking down Nasser Al Khelaïfi’s plan to take European football by storm with the signings of Messi, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma.

PSG returned to their reality. Ligue 1 is a competition they dominate year after year. In the first match at the Parc des Princes after the Champions League disaster, Galtier’s side lost 2-0 to Rennes. None of the regular defenders Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos, Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe or Nordi Mukiele played.

International break

The premature elimination from the Champions League has brought PSG’s season to an end. Although Galtier, whose future is in the air stresses that, “it is not easy to win Ligue 1″, the club have won eight of the last 11 league titles. The international break comes as a godsend for the team, as the mood in the dressing room is at rock bottom.