TV View: Can ‘auld fella’ Messi still do it? Of course he can

BT can hardly contain their excitement ahead of the El Cashico™

Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate their 2-0 win over Man City in the French capital. Photograph: Franck Fife/Getty/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate their 2-0 win over Man City in the French capital. Photograph: Franck Fife/Getty/AFP

 

There was a gargantuan photo of an illuminated Eiffel Tower over Jake Humphrey’s left shoulder when he introduced us to BT Sport 2’s Champions League coverage, so that gave us an inkling that their chosen game might be Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City. When he confirmed as much, it felt like we’d solved a Crosaire clue.

And Jake, no more than ourselves, was left in need of a bib when he gave us the team news, drooling while he revealed that all injury concerns had been brushed aside and PSG’s front three was Messi, Mbappe and Neymar.

Joleon Lescott, one of Jake’s panellists, was defiant, though, arguing that City’s attack of Mahrez, Sterling and Grealish was a bit tasty too, which it was, but as Martin Keown put it later in the commentary box, PSG’s was “a PlayStation front three”.

Martin has a habit of getting it wrong, but he wasn’t far off being right this time. And the ageist among you who suggested that he’d be more familiar with the Atari than the PlayStation should be ashamed.

If we’d any principles, of course, we’d have boycotted the El Cashico™ Qatar v Abu Dhabi derby and switched over to RTE for the clash of the minnows, Porto v Liverpool, but when Kevin de Bruyne is only the fourth best player on the pitch, tomorrow is plenty time for principles.

“They are too much good,” Pep Guardiola told Des Kelly when he asked him about that PSG attack, like the rearguard he’d selected to deal with them was straight out of Dagenham and Redbridge.

In all, the players in the starting line-ups cost their clubs a billion and a bit, which prompted Jake to remind us how fortunate we were to be paying BT to watch them. “How lucky are you to sit back on the sofa, crack open the drink of your choice, and watch these two brilliant teams go toe to toe?” Very, we agreed, but after paying the subscription, all we could afford was tap water.

The panel, completed by Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves, largely fancied City, largely because they’d a hunch Messi, Mbappe and Neymar would be left twiddling their big toes all night, rarely seeing the ball.

Lionel Messi opened his PSG account in style on Tuesday night. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA
Lionel Messi opened his PSG account in style on Tuesday night. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

And Martin wondered out loud if Messi was past it, declaring 10 minutes later that he’d lost none of his ability.

Like ye all, though, this couch will never, ever, ever come to to terms with him being in a jersey of the non-Barca kind, as an acquaintance described it, ‘it’d be like Mick Jagger transferring to The Beatles’. But that analogy is so inadequate, it’s barely worth mentioning.

“You might question whether Lionel Messi could do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke,” said Jake, “but his record against English clubs in the Champions League probably answers that one.” In time, we’ll figure that one out.

Match time and if you had put a fiver on Idrissa Gana Gueye being the game’s first goal scorer, you’re now on a private jet heading to your villa in the Seychelles.

And if you’f put another fiver on Bernardo Silva missing an open goal, you now own the Seychelles.

Second-half. The 75th minute on September 28th in the year of our Lord, 2021: Messi scores his first PSG goal. And it was the most Messi goal in the history of Messi goals.

“The shirt may have changed, the finishing ability remains the same,” as Darren Fletcher put it. “You know what he’s going to do, but can he do it? Yes he can!!” Martin had found his inner Bob the Builder.

“Still best in class, this man,” he said, 75 minutes after he declared he was past it. But look, everyone’s opinions are allowed to evolve.

Cristiano Ronaldo might have been chewing his remote control back home, but he’d be entitled to point out that Messi has Marco Verratti behind him, Cristiano has Fred.

BREAKING: Sebastien Thill scores a last minute screamer to give Sheriff Tiraspol a 2-1 win away to Real Madrid. Come on now, how can you not love football despite its copious amount of warts?

Back to Paris and Pep is peeling the beard from his face in frustration, as is Martin whenever the ref fails to award Grealish a free when he falls over after being stared at by an opponent. Neymar falls over after being stared at by an opponent. “I hate gamesmanship,” says Martin, Darren just about stifling a chuckle.

Two-nil to PSG. He might be an auld fella, but can Messi still do it? Yes he can. Just in the wrong shirt, though.

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