The smile has returned. After a spectacular start to the season for Paris Saint-Germain, is Lionel Messi back to his best?

We are unsure if Lionel Messi is truly back after such a challenging first season in Paris after leaving Barcelona, despite PSG having had a terrific start to the season. We got in touch with our colleague Cyril Morin from Eurosport France to learn more and to hear his opinion on the new season’s quick start in the nation’s capital. Has Christophe Galtier at last discovered the secret ingredient?

Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain @PSG_inside – Twitter

In a spectacle that many people believed would never take place, Lionel Messi said his final goodbyes to Barcelona exactly one year ago today (Monday).
Despite Barcelona’s financial difficulties, it was a beautiful moment in football history that no one truly anticipated, and it became one of the defining pictures of 2021.
While sporting directors feverishly ran the calculations, Manchester City and a few other teams from both inside and outside of Europe were still in the running for Messi.

The PSG version of the 2022–23 season made its Ligue 1 debut on Saturday with a dominating performance against Clermont, defeating them 0–5, with Lionel Messi’s superb bicycle kick serving as the game-winning strike.

The objective was a clinical finish that “La Pulga” had only performed a few times in his career, in addition to its quality.

The French club had an exciting start to the season because it was able to keep all of its talents, especially Kylian Mbappé.

Now that Christophe Galtier is in charge, PSG will want to not only dominate its domestic league but also advance in the Champions League.

During the game’s final stretch, Messi stood out.

Credit: Getty Images

Paris was to be his next location, as we now know, but it was not an easy journey. PSG won the championship, but Messi wasn’t at his best despite having the second-most assists in Ligue 1.
PSG has a 4-0 record against Nantes in the Trophee des Champions and a 5-0 record against Clermont in their first Ligue 1 encounter this season. In those two games, Messi has three goals and an assist, with his amazing overhead kick against Clermont serving as the game-winner.
So, Messi is he back? Maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. We contacted Cyril Morin from Eurosport France to learn more, so that’s what we did.

Let’s start here since, in the end, PSG will inevitably dominate its opponents in several matches every season because it is the reality when their financial advantage over the competition is so great.
What, then, stands out from last season under Mauricio Pochettino to this season under new manager Christophe Galtier?
Morin claims that “the difference is really obvious.”

“Let’s start with the system. Now that PSG is using a 3-4-3 formation, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Achraf Hakimi are given a lot of freedom to maneuver around the field, with Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi serving as the wingbacks. We never really got a sense of Pochettino’s strategy or his concepts… We can understand what Galtier wants with this PSG squad. It is a small but crucial first step.

Morin’s argument regarding Messi and Neymar’s freedom is therefore very intriguing. Both players, especially Messi, occasionally took center stage, and it was obvious they were free to move wherever they pleased.
In recent years, the issue of how to utilize an aging Messi has been really intriguing. Due to his poor defending, he essentially left the right-back alone in Barcelona’s 4-3-3, and Pochettino didn’t appear to know whether to play him at 10 and risk the middle or at wide and face the risks.
Maybe the key is this 3-4-3 formation. To create a system where Messi can succeed, you need two wingbacks who can cover every square inch of their flank, two disciplined midfielders to shield them, and three center backs. Galtier if it works


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