Real Madrid vs PSG: This might be the match why Messi moved to Paris, says Jofre

Lionel Messi left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain last year after spending 17 years at the club, scoring 672 goals in 778 games – 15 of which came at this very stadium, more than any other venue as a visitor for Barcelona.

Messi has five goals in the Champions League this season for PSG.   -  REUTERS

Lionel Messi will be returning to his old hunting ground Santiago Bernabeu for the first time in non-Barcelona colours for the return leg of the Champions League on Wednesday.

His current team, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), beat Los Blancos at home with Kylian Mbappe netting in the last minute and former La-Masia product and Espanyol midfielder, Jofre Mateu believes Messi will run the show in Spain this time.

“We can see how much criticism he buries and this might be the match why Messi moved to Paris -- playing in Madrid, playing in the Bernabeu, where he has had good memories,” he said.

Follow the match live: Real Madrid vs PSG Live: When and where to watch, Champions League updates

Messi left Barcelona to join PSG last year after spending 17 years at the club, scoring 672 goals in 778 games – 15 of which came at this very stadium, more than any other venue as a visitor for Barcelona.

The Argentine has missed his shooting boots since, scoring just seven goals in all competitions for the Ligue 1 giants – five of which have come in the Champions League.

“We know how competitive Messi is and how confident he is in the Champions League. In Bernabeu, we are not going to see the ‘best Messi’ because that is in the past, but we will see a very good [version of] Messi,” Jofre added.

“They showed in the first leg two weeks ago why the club [PSG] is betting, probably, to become [UCL] champions more than ever. That’s why I think they will be one of the favourites [to win the tournament].”

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PSG missed on its maiden Champions League title in 2019-20 when Bayern Munich pipped it in the final.

Two years later, with both Messi and Neymar in its lineup, Mauricio Pochettino’s side will eye a smooth into the next round.

However, Mbappe remains a doubt for the Les Parisiens and Jofre is not ruling out a comeback for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Messi has 15 goals from his visits to Santiago Bernabeu. Photo: Reuters

 

“There's a possibility of a Madrid comeback. PSG has had memories in Spain, with big contributions from Messi and Neymar. I give a chance for Real Madrid, but a very slim chance,” he said.

“I think the big absence is of Casemiro. Without Casemiro, Real is another team. Whether you have [Federico] Valverde or [Eduardo] Camavinga, it is not going to be the same.”

In the last 10 meetings between Madrid and PSG, the Los Blancos have won five, while PSG has won three times. In La Liga, Ancelotti’s side has not lost a single match this season at home, winning 10 and drawing four matches.

However, Real’s fortress has been breached in the Champions League in September last year, when Moldovan minnow FC Sheriff upset the 13-time Champions League winner – something that will be a silver lining for PSG, which is unbeaten in the last three competitive fixtures against Real.

The last time Madrid beat PSG, the winning goal was scored by Casemiro – who will watch from the stands, serving his suspension.

Barcelona taking a step back for a ‘bigger’ future

Jofre, who grew up in Barcelona’s youth system and played most of his football in Spain, said that it was tough to see his former club, Barca, out of Europe’s premier competition.

“It is tough to watch Barcelona out of the Champions League. We know that sometimes you have to take one step back to run and go for a bigger future,” he said.

Barcelona was eliminated in the group stage of this year’s Champions League after losses to Bayern Munich twice and to Benfica once.

However, the Blaugrana have enjoyed a resurgence under former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, and is on an unbeaten run of eight games, sitting third in the league table with 48 points from 26 matches.

“The financial condition of the club is very difficult and we are trying to build something with Xavi for the near future. We are recovering the smiles.”

Barcelona will face Galatasaray in the quarterfinals of the Europa League on Friday in its pursuit for silverware this season, which will guarantee its qualification for next season’s Champions League irrespective of its position in the league table.

Watch UEFA Champions League 2021-22 (Round 16 – 2nd Leg): Real Madrid vs PSG – LIVE on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on March 10, 2022, from 1:30 am IST.

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