The much-hyped trio of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, and Neymar were unable to lead Paris Saint-Germain to victory in their Champions League opener on Wednesday, as Club Brugge held the French side to a 1-1 draw.
Messi was playing in his 150th Champions League game, and his first for PSG, but the Ligue 1 side struggled in what turned out to be a difficult away match in Belgium.
The Parisians were strong favorites going into the match, and they took an early lead through Ander Herrera after 15 minutes.
Before the half-hour mark, the hosts fought back, with Hans Vanaken scoring a well-deserved equalizer.
Brugge had chances to win the game after keeping Messi and his teammates quiet for the majority of the game, though the Argentine did hit the crossbar with a trademark long-range shot.
After the game, PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino told reporters, “Nobody in the team can be happy with their performance and nobody can be happy with this result.”
“We came here to take points. All the points. Hats off to Club Brugge. They wanted it more than us tonight and they deserve the point.”
Many at the club hoped that Messi would be the missing piece in PSG’s quest for a Champions League trophy, but it appears that the team is still developing.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner displayed flashes of brilliance, but his team appeared to be a collection of individuals rather than a cohesive unit.
Pochettino said of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé, “We need time to work with them to build an understanding.”
“That’s been clear and we’ve said that in recent days. We still have to create a team.”
PSG’s night was made even worse when Mbappé limped off with an injury just six minutes into the second half.
Medical personnel attended to the 22-year-old before he hobbled off the pitch with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
While PSG struggled, Manchester City dominated RB Leipzig in a classic Champions League match.
Pep Guardiola’s side won 6-3 in a thrilling display, but the number of goals conceded by the defense at the Etihad Stadium may worry him.
For the Germans, Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick, but City’s forwards made up for it with goals from Nathan Ake, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Joo Cancelo, and Gabriel Jesus, as well as an own goal by Nordi Mukiele.
“Leipzig never give up. They have a special way to attack. They play all or nothing,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the match.
“You never have the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored and it helped us a lot.
“They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football. The quality of [our] players was better today and that’s why we won.”
Grealish, City’s $138 million summer signing, looked the best of the club’s attacking talent, demonstrating why the club spent so much money on him.
Guardiola’s creativity from the flanks was crucial to his team’s success, and it bodes well for City’s bid to win the Champions League for the first time.