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Home » Lackluster Performance from Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe Leads to Defeat for PSG at Rennes

Lackluster Performance from Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe Leads to Defeat for PSG at Rennes

16 January 2023, Monday
Paris Saint-Germain's struggles to get back to winning ways in club football following the FIFA 2022 World Cup were underscored by a 1-0 loss away to Stade Rennais on Sunday in Ligue 1. This was the French champions' second straight topflight defeat and has reignited the title race in Le Championnat, with RC Lens now just three points behind PSG.

Most worryingly of all for Paris Saint-Germain, UEFA Champions League play is less than a month away and Les Parisiens are in a far cry from the form they had shown in the opening stages of the season. Rennes got the better of the depleted host side at Roazhon Park, with Hamari Traore's strike enough for a 1-0 win. However, the result does not tell the full story of the visitors' dominance.

Without the heroics of Gianluigi Donnarumma, PSG would have been overwhelmed by a larger deficit, as they faced an attack with the presence of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. The Italian goalkeeper proved his worth by keeping the deficit to one goal despite the abundance of star power in the opposition.

Despite the sheer firepower of PSG, the team could only manage one shot on target during their encounter with Brittany. This came late in the game, after all three players were on the pitch. Both Neymar and Messi were particularly uninspiring, despite Neymar's return to action in midweek and Messi's goal in the same game.

"I am definitely upset with the performance we put in today," declared Galtier. "We created nothing and had a scarce amount of decent opportunities. Our strategy was to hold onto possession but too many of our players would retreat without leaving many upfield to bother the Rennes defense. We were aware that this might leave us vulnerable. I like to stick to a certain plan with Neymar and Lionel but there needs to be other solutions. We lacked a key player to bring the ball forward so those two would struggle to find forward momentum."

Verratti's recent injury is concerning as its timing has coincided with a major dip in performance despite being present for the team's first defeat in Lens. Vitinha, Fabian Ruiz, Carlos Soler, and Danilo Pereira have found it difficult to compensate for the Italian's absence, and 16-year-old Warren Zaire Emery is too inexperienced to provide the same level of control.

There is heightened scrutiny over captain Marquinhos' extended dip in form and veteran Sergio Ramos appearing every bit a 37-year-old. This brings into view the depth of the defensive squad, with Luis Campos previously speaking out on the missed opportunity of signing Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar.

"We have had two losses already and we need to up our game in terms of solidity and intensity," Marquinhos commented. "These matches come down to minor details and we paid for them. It is of great importance to our mission of rebuilding our connection and conquering points, both at home and away. These points will be invaluable come the end of the season."

"It was extremely exasperating to lose a game like that," said Hugo Ekitike. "I feel as if we didn't put enough into it. It was a major letdown. We need to rally together and move on. I'm gradually settling into my role, but I can't be too pleased with the performance. I had little opportunity to be effective and will put in more effort to net more goals."

The suggestion of putting Mbappe back in the starting XI might arise, however the France international was also part of the match against Lens yet unable to influence the result. The wobbly performance displayed by Paris Saint-Germain has been seen even prior to the return to the domestic action, with a controversial late penalty helping them to a 2-1 victory over the struggling RC Strasbourg Alsace prior to the Lens fixture.

PSG have recently been struggling at home, suffering a 10-game losing run at Stade Bollaert. Their issue appears to be complicated, with factors such as the relentless pursuit of their Northern rivals, as well as post-World Cup fatigue, suspected to be playing a role. Given the upcoming four fixtures against largely beatable foes before the UEFA Champions League returns, it is now essential that coach Galtier and his team make a quick improvement in form.

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