PSG 2-0 Angers: Lionel Messi returns, scores as Paris sees bottom-dwellers off
PSG hosted and defeated Angers 2-0 in the first game staged at the Parc des Princes in 2023. On the day that marked the return of Lionel Messi to the French capital, it was all smiles and business for Paris Saint-Germain, who saw off the bottom-dwellers of Ligue 1 and added three more points to their season tally.
The lads from Paris didn't want to break a sweat, nor did they need to, actually. Facing a much less talented team in Angers that was sitting 36 points behind PSG on the table before the game (and now 39), Christophe Galtier could even bring back his five-at-the-back plan and go away with a victory without much trouble on Wednesday evening.
Messi couldn't enjoy a proper celebration of his well-earned World Cup triumph less than a month ago at the Parc, but the crowd still embraced him on a night that Paris Saint-Germain deemed proper to pay homage to the late Pele instead of their Argentine genius. Perhaps in retaliation, albeit on a positive ending for all parties involved, Messi got to personally celebrate by himself after scoring the final goal of the game 72 minutes into the affair.
It was the oft-lost Hugo Ekitike who opened the score with a fifth-minute effort in which Messi found Nordi Mukiele on the right only for the French wing-back to put a goal in Ekitike's platter. That goal, along with Messi's and a draw by Lens (2-2 at Strasbourg) was all Paris needed to get crowned French Champions of Autumn. As if that counted for anything around the capital...
Lionel Messi returned, scored, and helped PSG win against last-place Angers to extend Ligue 1 lead
With Kylian Mbappe still enjoying some time off and Achraf Hakimi suspended (and on vacation, too), it was all about the duo of Neymar and Messi on Wednesday grabbing all the headlines and flashlights. More apt to the situation, though, it was more about Messi and Mukiele (Hakimi's replacement on the right flank) with Neymar not doing that much against last-placed Angers other than scoring a later-ruled-off banger.
Angers, expectedly, were clearly overwhelmed even by a Parisian team that seemed to ease Messi into their gameplan by walking instead of running around the pitch, as the Argentine international has gotten accustomed to doing himself in the past few years. Other than in a brief spell at the start of the second half, the Angevines were clearly overmatched and never brought any heat to PSG's territory, let alone Donnarumma's confines.
The return of Messi, paired with a return to the 5-2-3 formation, was good enough to have Paris Saint-Germain earning three more points with 18 Ligue 1 games in the books. The change in shape pretty much nullified the contributions of Juan Bernat and Fabian Ruiz, who both were completely lost and never got into the flow of the game barely touching the ball.
It was a rather dumbfounding game plan by Galtier on all fronts. From the change in shape (deploying Danilo as the third center-back instead of at a holding midfielder position) to starting Fabian Ruiz in an attacking midfield role instead of going with Warren Zaire-Emery.
At the end of the day, PSG did what PSG always do.
Lens dropped points, OM won but is still eight points behind the leaders, and Rennes (Paris Saint-Germain's rival next weekend) fell to Clermont Foot and is tied with Monaco at fourth/fifth.