Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino responds after Lionel Messi’s public snub on PSG home debut

Mauricio Pochettino sought to play down Lionel Messi’s handshake snub during Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Lyon on Sunday night.

PSG kept up their 100 percent Ligue 1 record this season with a comeback victory at the Parc des Princes.

Lucas Paqueta handed OL the lead early in the second period, before Neymar levelled the scores from the penalty spot.

The game looked set to end in stalemate until substitute Mauro Icardi headed home a 93rd minute winner for the French title favourites, whose perfect record sees them lead the Ligue 1 table, five points clear of bitter rivals Marseille.

With 15 minutes remaining in Paris however, Messi’s home debut was brought to an abrupt end – much to the former Barcelona superstar’s displeasure.

Pochettino took off the 34 year-old, who did little to hide his frustration, refusing to shake hands with the ex-Spurs boss as he trudged to the bench.

There, Messi did little to hide his unhappiness.

Speaking post-game, Pochettino insisted there were no problems with Messi, insisting his compatriot understood his decision.

Pochettino said: “I took the decision to take Leo off to protect him for possible injuries. We have important games coming up and we want to protect him.

“These are decisions that we make for the good of the team. Everyone knows we have great players.

“We have a very rich squad of 35 players. Then we have to make choices. With the 11 who must start and then we have to make decisions during the game.

“Sometimes these choices pay off and sometimes they don’t.

“But that’s why we’re standing in front of the bench thinking about what to do. And those decisions that you have to make, whether things go well or not. Whether you like it or not.

“Afterwards, Messi told me he was fine with the decision.”

It was the first time Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – booed before kickoff – had all started on home soil together.

And Pochettino was delighted at his side’s response following their disappointing 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League in midweek.

“It’s very positive for us,” added Pochettino. “After our difficult game against Brugge, winning again was important.

“Lyon are a great team, with great players and they played well in the first half. After the goal we conceded, we had to show some character.

“We have to find the balance to provide strength to the team. We continue to work on it.”
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