Header Ads

Because Of Messi: Pochettino Admits "Problems With Neymar And Mbappé" And How Can "MNM" Work?

Great harmony has not yet returned to Paris Saint-Germain. Not on the pitch yet, but coach Mauricio Pochettino also has to moderate his stars next to it.

It actually looks pretty convincing on paper. Ligue 1 leads PSG by seven points after eleven match days, and in the Champions League group the star ensemble is in first place ahead of Manchester City.

Beyond the results, however, not everything is right for the French runners-up since Lionel Messi joined Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in the summer. This applies on the one hand to the harmony on the pitch, on the other hand to the one next to it .

Messi: No goal participation in the league yet

The latest incident: PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino had commented on the Ballon d'Or, which, according to the Argentine, should be won by a Parisian if possible, but most likely by his compatriot Messi (not yet having scored four league games).

Although the six-time world footballer can show that he won the Copa America in 2021, his storm colleagues still didn't think their coach's statement was that great. "They had a problem with it and asked why not," admitted Pochettino with a smile after the 0-0 draw against Olympique Marseille.

The PSG ensemble will have to prove in the next two games that it can "only" collect two wins from four games after the last two games: on Friday evening, Paris hosts Lille, the following Wednesday RB Leipzig invites them to the Champions League.

How can "MNM" work?

The investment has actually already paid off. For the Qatari PSG owners anyway. The plan to make the club a global brand despite the manageable attractiveness of Ligue 1, to generate maximum attention in every corner of the world, has never worked better than now. And the spearhead of this plan, it's called Messi, Neymar, Mbappé - in short: "MNM".

One of them, Messi, is new; the other, Mbappé, stayed despite a $ 200 million bid from Madrid; and Neymar, who is much more than the protective swallow incarnate, still exists. It happened. And it works. At least next to the square. Messi's debut against Reims was the most-watched French league game in history, his first picture with a jersey in Prinzenpark got the sixth most likes of all Instagram posts ever. Paris has not only brought together three of the best football players on the planet in one team, but also three of the most far-reaching players.

Mauricio Pochettino shouldn't care much about that. The PSG coach has to form a functioning trio from the three exceptional talent. The beginning was marked by difficulties. Three egos claiming to be the biggest star - can that even work? Not that easy to answer. Because several questions arise at the same time.

How did "MNM" harmonize so far?

Very good in individual scenes. But nothing more. "MNM" played four games together, PSG didn't really convince in any of them. At the first appearance of the three in Bruges it even seemed as if they would get along better without each other. The PSG game in the first half was completely tailored to steep passes in the direction of Mbappé, and Messi was then completely cut off from the action at times.

Only when deep sprinter Mbappé was replaced in the second half due to an injury by wall player Mauro Icardi did Messi suddenly revive - the PSG game now focused on him and his ball actions, no longer on Mbappé's deep runs. Nevertheless, PSG never became mandatory. "L'Equipe" called the performance "ghostly" afterwards, the former Werder playmaker and today's TV expert Johan Micoud even said he had "seen no team on the pitch" - and Pochettino said: "We have to go offensive Finding organization that brings creativity. " A kind of admission about the individual qualities of the trio. Especially since he has still not found the right organization.

"We still have enough time for that," said the coach, though. But is that so? Neymar is - like now before the Champions League game against Leipzig  on Tuesday (9 p.m., LIVE! At kicker) - constantly prevented from playing by injuries, he and Messi also often miss the league games after their national team trips. And whether Pochettino will send his MNM Ferrari against teams like Lorient or Brest on the wet track? Unlikely.

Slight progress in the previous joint appearances was certainly noticeable, but only over individual stretches of the game. When the 2-0 win at Stade Rennes, for example, PSG played excellent football for 20 minutes - and then collapsed. The victory over Manchester City in the Champions League also shows: These individual, special scenes, the pure footballing class - they can be sufficient at the highest level. Even without the right organization.

Which tactical formations are conceivable?

In the Champions League, PSG formed in both previous group games in 4-3-3 - the system that Pochettino currently prefers. In the three-man storm, Messi played on the right, Neymar on the left and Mbappé in the center. Striking: Messi always pulls it from the right to the tens position, he practically completes the middle field of three to form a diamond. He seldom holds the outside lane. Mbappé, on the other hand, prefers to use the wings, preparing, among other things, the 2-1 winner against Lyon or the 1-0 against City.

The only question that arises is: can a storm trio work if two of the three players are not playing in their optimal position? "Mbappé is simply not a classic nine," says Alexis Menuge, who, as an expert for DAZN, comments on most PSG games live, in an interview with kicker. "This means that the system has its limits."

In Ligue 1, Pochettino went 4-2-3-1 against Lyon and Rennes, sacrificing a central midfielder in favor of Angel di Maria, who took over the right wing. The advantage: Messi is much better involved in the game on ten and can be the link between Neymar and Mbappé there. And: His lack of defensive work and constant orientation to the center does not leave a completely free right half-space - at least when di Maria is active in the game against the ball. In the 2-1 win over Lyon he was widely praised by the French press, and in the 0-2 draw in Rennes, the strong Bretons knew how to take advantage of the many spaces behind the offensive quartet. In the Champions League, a 4-2-3-1 is likely to be associated with too much risk.

France expert Menuge brings another possibility into play. "A 3-4-3 might be better," he says. "Then Paris would be more balanced and stable. Messi, Neymar and Mbappé would have to work less backwards and focus on their main task. They would be even more unpredictable." And closer together on the square. But whether the triple chain has what it takes to become Pochettino's favorite formation? At Tottenham, the Argentine let her play occasionally, rarely at PSG so far.

Menuge also sees them as dependent on a personality. "This system will only be tried out once Sergio Ramos is there," he says. Without the injured veteran, PSG would be missing a third center-back of top international format. Whether the 3-4-3 is a valid option will probably only show in the winter months, because: "You'd have to rehearse it," analyzes Menuge, "probably in January, between the group phase and the last sixteen of the Champions League."

Does Pochettino even have a suitable plan?

Perhaps the most difficult of all questions. Since he took over PSG at the beginning of the year, people in France have been puzzled as to what is typical for "Pochettino football". "You still can't see handwriting, and I have great doubts that that will change," says Menuge.

It is likely that the Argentine wants to fully extend his new three-cylinder sports car and will try to win in the Champions League over the purely individual class of "MNM" - especially since each of the three stars in the club is given a higher standing than the coach . Recently he said of his trio: "What they appreciate most is spontaneity. They don't want to force anything, it has to come of course." So that means: hardly any tactical constraints, lots of freedom. It's a bit like putting the most talented musicians in the world together in an orchestra, but not giving them any sheet music.

At least against the "big" opponents - as the game against ManCity showed - Pochettino will probably rely more on counter-pressing moments, a compact center and counterattacks, less on long phases of possession. Menuge thinks that's right. "In terms of play, PSG cannot keep up with the top teams in the Champions League," he says clearly. "Playing the game yourself would be possible, but difficult against dominant teams. And they won't change their face there." So the conductor trusts his talent for improvisation.

Which star trios already worked?

In the 50s and 60s, Juventus Turin once had a trident with Giampiero Boniperti, John Charles and Omar Sivori, each of which became the top scorer. Manchester United's "holy trinity" Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law each even managed to win the Ballon d'Or - while playing together.

With "MNM", whether Mbappé's rumors of emigration or Messi's advanced age, the question naturally arises as to whether it has been running together for so long at all. In addition, the two trios mentioned complemented each other in terms of player types, while the ball-dominant Messi and Neymar think and act very similarly. All three like to shoot at goal.

Do Real Madrid's "Galacticos" serve as a warning example?

Unlike many other trios, "MNM" meet as made stars who have already won and achieved a lot. On the way to the top of the world, something can only grow together to a limited extent because the three of them have long since arrived there on their own. First and foremost, the pieces of the puzzle that can hardly be deformed should be put together as well as possible.

Stars who are already used to success and who are of little help behind the scenes and who are not necessarily in their best positions - especially when they work together? Real Madrid could tell you a thing or two about that with their "Galacticos". The attention was great when, from 2002, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane were joined by Ronaldo and David Beckham. But the success remained rather manageable. Los Blancos did not manage to combine the necessary motivation and balance in their team. And at PSG there is another attacker with (justified) ambitions in the form of di Maria.

What can "MNM" learn from "MSN"?

Between 2014 and 2017, Messi and Neymar, together with Luis Suarez (now Atletico Madrid), spread fear and horror across Europe. Because the three exceptional talent at FC Barcelona seemed to be even better together than the sum of the individual parts. "MSN" also lived on mutual complementarity and a certain hierarchy: Messi dominated the offensive as a busy playmaker, Neymar mostly came off the wing, and Suarez became a bit of a combination and role player in the center of the attack.

What could be a challenge for "MNM": Mbappé also strives for more individually, but Neymar in particular has a different standing compared to his Barça time. He's been the star in Paris for years, the number 10 adorns his back. Until Messi's arrival, the Brazilian acted more centrally than in Barcelona and teased his team's game. Now he has to back off. This season, Neymar played a bigger role away from the ball - which also means she's getting smaller on the ball. In any case, this applies to target player Mbappé, who has some of his greatest strengths without the ball due to his speed (pinning a chain, tying several opponents, attacking deep).

Of the three stars, two could have to step back a little for the best possible chances of success, whereby Mbappé would first have to prove the playing and combination strength of Luis Suarez in his role. In Messi's first goal against ManCity, he did exactly what actually looked rehearsed. This is how it could work.

How can PSG make up for the defensive deficit?

"There is no problem," says Mbappé at least. "It's an established hierarchy. I agree to run when Messi trots. It's Messi," the striker said in a recent interview with L'Equipe. The sports newspaper immediately felt obliged to subject this statement to a fact check - and indeed: Since Messi's arrival, Mbappé's statistical defensive values   have read better than in previous seasons, which, however, was not particularly difficult. The discussion about Messi's absence as soon as the ball is with his opponent has been kindled anew since his move to PSG - and not without good reason.

At the "MNM" debut in Bruges, the problem became clear in a way that simply had to frighten the PSG supporters. As a matter of course, the Belgian outsider played off each of his attacks through the gaping gap between Messi and Achraf Hakimi - and since the Moroccan himself likes to be a meter too far forward, Bruges regularly reached the baseline with playful ease. Even Antonio Conte, who is rarely at a loss for a tactical solution, said after the first impressions at "Sky Italia": "It is not easy to bring this team into balance. That would be difficult not only for Pochettino, but for every coach."

Against ManCity, the big indicator of the PSG season so far, Pochettino then developed a plan that at least partially worked: Ander Herrera "replaced" the passive Messi in the run-up behavior as right eight and also took over the position of the Argentine as soon as he was outplayed. PSG left Pep Guardiola's driver Rodri plenty of space in the center for construction, but managed to close the half-spaces and tie City's offensive full-backs.

Also thanks to an extremely disciplined Hakimi on the right and a defensive-thinking Neymar on the left, but above all thanks to the omnipresent Marco Verratti, who together with the running-happy Idrissa Gueye absorbed the lack of defensive work by Messi (and in parts Mbappé) and repeatedly the necessary switching actions initiated. So Messi and Mbappé may have made the key moment, but the key player was Verratti.

The former French international Robert Pires had already analyzed in a kicker interview before the game: "The Trio Mbappé-Neymar-Messi will only work if the midfield does the so-called dirty work, behaves in a disciplined manner when losing the ball and is able to do it To put exceptional experts in the limelight. (...) Then they will be difficult to defeat. " Especially in the Champions League - and that's what the protagonists are all about - a functioning midfield should be the key to success.

Can "MNM" also become a team off the pitch?

Mbappé should be familiar with the fact that Neymar lives in an almost 11,000 square meter property with an integrated indoor pool. After his substitution in the league game against Montpellier, he was still of the opinion: "This homeless man never plays to me." The statement on the PSG bank - mind you, made in the presence of numerous TV cameras - caused a sensation . Mbappé recently played them down in an interview ("Such things happen all the time in football"), but the differences between two thirds of the new fable trio are obvious.

The once congenial connection between the two exceptional talents also seems to have fallen asleep on the pitch. Whether Neymar's current form low in the club shirt is the reason or consequence of this - unclear. For Menuge one thing is certain: The relationship between the two professionals endangers PSG's success. "Mbappé's ego is hurt," he says, "he has the feeling that he is too much in the trio. Something like that is poison for the cabin." It is no secret that the Frenchman, who is not as highly regarded within the team as Neymar, would have liked to move to Real Madrid and still wants to, is no secret - and at the same time a burden for the whole club: It will probably be the only season in which everyone three play together. It smells like the much-cited "Win now" mode.

But that can only work if the problems are not carried over to the field. "As long as it is not understood at PSG that no player should be above the club, that the institution Paris Saint-Germain should be above everything, this club will never end up on the throne of Europe," Pires clarified. And expert Menuge is even clearer: "I don't have the impression that the three of them want to play together at all. If they don't put their egos behind and Neymar and Mbappé don't pull themselves together, then PSG will fail. And not only in the final."

Back to the beginning: Messi, Neymar, Mbappé - can this work?

Three of the most gifted individual talents in the world together in a storm row - what sounds like a sure promise of success turns out to be a powder keg in many respects. But also as one that, due to its great individual quality, can sometimes explode in the right places. In the narrow world elite, something like that often tips the scales.

Two factors in particular emerge as decisive for the success of the "MNM" project: the midfield around key player Verratti for the athletic and the personal relationship of the three main actors for the atmospheric balance. Otherwise, PSG has built a dream trio that in the end could even be less than the sum of the individual parts.

Do You Know What We Have Posted on

Twitter Facebook Instagram Reddit

No comments

Powered by Blogger.