February 15 – Paris St Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino has backed Lionel Messi to come good against Real Madrid in tonight’s mouth-watering Champions League last-16 first leg despite an underwhelming domestic campaign.
Messi has scored only two goals in Ligue 1 since his surprise move to PSG last August after 21 years at Barcelona. But he has fared much better in the Champions League for PSG, scoring five times in five group games.
The Argentine superstar invariably got fired up to play Real Madrid when at Barca, scoring 26 goals in 45 meetings, making him the all-time top scorer in ‘El Clasico’.
Pochettino is certain he will rise to the occasion when Carlo Ancelotti’s side visit the Parc des Princes.
“In matches like this his experience is very important and he can play a fundamental role in transmitting that to his team-mates,” Pochettino told a news conference.
“We don’t need to gear ourselves up for this game because everyone is already highly motivated and hugely excited.”
PSG have still never won the Champions League despite all their resources but have a 50-50 chance of overcoming the 13-time title holders in the tie of the round despite the coach rating them as underdogs.
“A lot of effort has gone into building a squad to achieve our dream but we’re still the challengers and Real Madrid are the ones who have a habit of winning the Champions League,” said Pochettino.
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