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Soccer

PSG’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid “killed the dressing room”

Lionel Messi discusses the dread PSG experienced missing the dream of the Champions League and how covid-19 derailed his debut season with the team.

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

Lionel Messi’s transition from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain hasn’t been easy. Though he’s adjusting, his debut year wasn’t exactly how he would have dreamed it to be. From the unexpected and tearful exit from Barcelona, to adjusting his family to a new country and himself to a new team, getting injured, then covid-19, and to top it off, losing the dream of the Champions League - Messi has had a lot to deal with in the last year. He spoke with TyC Sports about all of it.

Messi on adapting to PSG

“In Barcelona, I had teammates who I had been playing alongside for many years,” Messi said. “They knew me by heart.”

Messi talked about the challenge of coming in late to PSG and how that made it even more difficult to adapt after leaving his former team of 16 seasons (21 years including his time at the academy). He had to learn a completely different method in a completely different league after decades, and come into it late in the season.

Despite the late start, PSG had high hopes of making it to the Champions League and with the acquisition of Messi, they knew it was possible. Messi, who won the Champions League five times with Barcelona, also believed in the dream.

“Then I had a blow to the knee and was out for a while,” said Messi. “Between one thing and another, I didn’t play a lot.”

Messi tried his best to stay positive and tell himself that after the holidays, he’d come back strong and refreshed. “After this, it’s a new year. The adaptation is over,” he told himself. But as we know from living life, bad things happen in groups that get dumped on you all at once just when things seem to be looking up.

“Covid caught me. I couldn’t train, I came back and spent a month and a half without even being able to run because it strongly affected my lungs,” Messi explained.

Messi on losing Champions League hopes

Shortly after Messi caught covid-19, he and PSG would be forced to give up on the dream of winning the Champions League. PSG was up 2-0 in the last-16 game against Real Madrid with just under 30 minutes left before Karim Benzema managed one of his infamous hat tricks within 18 minutes to completely turn things around. They lost 3-2, exiting the Champions League, and it was a huge blow to the team.

“That killed us,” said Messi. “It killed me and the entire dressing room in general, and all of Paris because they had a great dream in that competition. And like the game and the result was, it was a blow.”

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