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Lionel Messi would clearly fit into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as a false nine

Lionel Messi would clearly fit into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as a false nine better than Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG … but he still impacted the Champions League clash

  • Paris Saint-Germain fell 2-1 in their Champions League encounter with City
  • Pep Guardiola’s Man City team delivered a high-energy performance
  • Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain relied too heavily on Lionel Messi
  • Messi fits in any team but definitely fits in Guardiola’s City as a false nine
  • Arguably more than Pochettino’s PSG in some way, but it still impacted the game


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The circus came to town with a ringmaster that Manchester City really liked and always seemed destined to park the car here.

There were children in Paris Saint-Germain jerseys with their names on the steps of the house.

A gang of selfie hunters had gathered around the Lowry Hotel in the early evening to catch a glimpse as he got on the bus.

Paris Saint-Germain fell 2-1 in their Champions League encounter with Manchester City

Paris Saint-Germain fell 2-1 in their Champions League encounter with Manchester City

Paris Saint-Germain relied too heavily on their star player Lionel Messi (above) once again

Paris Saint-Germain relied too heavily on their star player Lionel Messi (above) once again

Paris Saint-Germain relied too heavily on their star player Lionel Messi (above) once again

The half and half scarf vendors, whipping the merchandise with their faces on the fabric, did a great deal.

But, most important of all, and City accountants will agree, were the hordes of fans outside the Etihad, an hour before kick-off, who weren’t quite sure where they were headed. I’m not sure which turnstile was yours. Asking the butlers for directions in general puzzlement.

There were quite a few here who would consider viewing a Lionel Messi as one more hitch than last season’s semifinalists meeting. Some regular City fans complained during the week that they simply couldn’t get tickets.

Messi fits in any team but definitely fits in Guardiola's Manchester City as a false nine

Messi fits in any team but definitely fits in Guardiola's Manchester City as a false nine

Messi fits in any team but definitely fits in Guardiola’s Manchester City as a false nine

Arguably more than Mauricio Pochettino's PSG in some way, but it still impacted the game

Arguably more than Mauricio Pochettino's PSG in some way, but it still impacted the game

Arguably more than Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG in some way, but it still impacted the game

This occasion welcomed a new generation of potential fans to the City home, the kind that CEO Ferran Soriano longs for.

So it was also good that Pep Guardiola’s team delivered a high-energy performance with intent, even with a trio of their biggest stars absent. Perhaps some of those on a day trip will return.

Soriano and a few others in the City hierarchy may have witnessed Wednesday night and wondered what it could have been.

As a club source put it last year, when the prospect of Messi leaving Barcelona for a moment seemed likely, his arrival would have proven to be ‘transformative’ for the Premier League champions.

They had drawn up 10-year marketing plans on how best to capitalize on Messi’s brand and their mere presence would have thrown the club into another stratosphere.

Guardiola had wanted to sign Messi for the mere weight of the goals, the cracks of brilliance, the intelligent occupation of space

Guardiola had wanted to sign Messi for the mere weight of the goals, the cracks of brilliance, the intelligent occupation of space

Guardiola had wanted to sign Messi for the mere weight of the goals, the cracks of brilliance, the intelligent occupation of space

Kylian Mbappé (above) opened the scoring, but fans were heard shouting for Messi

Kylian Mbappé (above) opened the scoring, but fans were heard shouting for Messi

Kylian Mbappé (above) opened the scoring, but fans were heard shouting for Messi

That was so clear Wednesday night. The crowd was raised in a way that just doesn’t happen in the group stage of this competition and the main draw of the opposition was a major contributing factor.

Guardiola had wanted it for the mere weight of the goals, the cracks in brilliance, the intelligent occupation of space.

Messi fits into any team but he definitely fits into Guardiola’s City as a false nine. Yes, they would have to upset their team by pressing in the last third but, especially during a season in which the lack of a forward has been a topic of conversation, it would have been seen at home.

Arguably more than Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG in some way, but he still had an impact on this game.

Kylian Mbappé opened the scoring but owed a lot to the teacher, who had been so calm. Messi started the movement in his own half and then assisted. He did it himself. PSG fans knew it. “Messi, Messi, Messi”, came the chants of a crowded final.

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