PARIS -- For Lionel Messi, 263 minutes seems like a blink of an eye in the grand scheme. As he finally scored his goal against Manchester City in the 2-0 Champions League, his relief and joy was overwhelming.
Even the most famous superstars can feel the heat and weight associated with expectancy. Messi was already in his third longest goalless season after he arrived at PSG last month as a free player from Barcelona. It took him 298 minutes to score for Barca in 2005/06, and 288 minutes for PSG in 2019-20. So Messi, Pochettino, and PSG's ambitious owners would not have wanted the 34-year old to set a new unwelcome record in Paris.
Pochettino praised his compatriot for celebrating today's win after the match. It's something I internalize, not something I celebrate. Today, I let out an exclamation.
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"I had enough of seeing all the Messi goals against my face, so I decided to celebrate the one that was for us."
Messi was signed as the missing piece in PSG's Champions League-winning puzzle. It was a good time for everyone to see him finally score. Timing is everything. Messi has always been a master at picking his moment. He couldn't have picked a better opponent, time or place to score his first goal.
Even though they lost in Group A, Manchester City is likely to pose the greatest threat to PSG's goal of winning the Champions League. The fact that City and Pep Guardiola worked so hard for Messi will make the 74th minute goal at Parc des Princes even more sweeter for PSG’s Qatari owners. Guardiola admitted that it was a fantastic goal by his ex-Barcelona player.
PSG beat City due to Messi's signing and now he has shown them exactly what they missed. He could do the same in St. Petersburg's Champions League final in May.
His goal was equal to all 120 goals he scored in the competition for Barcelona. The Argentina international scored a goal from 20 yards after a typical Messi burst in midfield.
This was Messi's last rhapsody after so many years of wearing Barcelona's colours. He celebrated as if it was his first club goal, and not number 673.
It was a magnificent strike and one that Mbappe helped to create, but this game proved that Pochettino still needs to find the right formula for his star front three of Messi and Mbappe to work together as a team.
Lionel Messi (center) scored his first goal for PSG on Tuesday in their Champions League victory over Man City. ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images
Messi's goal will cover the gaps for now and might be the spark that ignites "MNM" into becoming the best strike force in the world. However, after Idrissa Gueye's seventh minute goal gave PSG the lead, Messi and Neymar struggled to gel as a front three.
PSG's problem with their three highly talented forwards is that they all expect to be the main men. Messi will always be there, so Neymar, Mbappe, and others might end up being incompatible.
One of them may have to leave. Mbappe already stated that he would like to go to Real Madrid with his contract, which could work in PSG's favor. PSG doesn't have Neymar and Mbappe to be able to offer that sacrifice for the good of their team.
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Messi and Neymar were able to work together so well at Barcelona due to the selflessness and work rate Luis Suarez displayed. Karim Benzema was a similar player in Real Madrid's forward line of "BBC", alongside Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Roberto Firmino is the Liverpool manager alongside Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Sadio Mane. Manchester United won the Champions League in 2008 under Sir Alex Ferguson because Wayne Rooney (and Carlos Tevez) both parked their egos to allow Ronaldo to score so many goals from a red shirt.
PSG needs a Benzema or Suarez as their third man. They have three forwards, who are not equal in their abilities, and they all want to occupy the same space.
Messi will not change and his goal shows why. But if PSG want to end their wait to win the Champions League, then something has to give. Mbappe will likely move on in the long term; however, Pochettino must make them all work together for this season.
Although it may seem simple when you look at the names, when you see Neymar struggling with his involvement and Mbappe unsure whether to look for Messi or run at goal, it becomes apparent that it is not as easy as just throwing great players together and hoping they deliver. You can still rely on Messi and won't have long to wait for his next goal.