Messi, Neymar and Mbappe can't prevent another PSG loss

Lionel Messi of PSG, Arnaud Kalimuendo of Rennes during the Ligue 1 match between Stade Rennais and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Roazhon Park stadium on January 15, 2023 in Rennes, France.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier said he will use video analysis to better understand the Ligue 1 leaders’ problems following a second straight away defeat in the French league on Sunday.

PSG started with Lionel Messi and Neymar in attack before bringing on Kylian Mbappe – the first time the trio have played together since the Qatar World Cup – early in the second half but still managed only one shot on target in the whole game under driving rain.

A 65th-minute goal by Rennes defender Hamari Traoré condemned PSG to a second defeat in three matches and cut the French champions’ lead over second-place Lens to three points. Rennes remain fifth.

“The images will speak for themselves,” Galtier said of his plans to use video analysis, “after that there will be choices to make.”

It was expected that Galtier would field his attacking triumvirate of World Cup winner Messi alongside Neymar and Mbappe but the PSG boss sprung a surprise by selecting 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike to spearhead the attack ahead of Mbappe.

Ekitike, much like his more illustrious teammates Messi and Neymar, was largely anonymous before being replaced in the second half by Mbappe.

Messi sent Mbappe clean through moments after Rennes took the lead but the Frenchman fired over international teammate Steve Mandanda’s goal.

Rennes coach Bruno Genesio’s bold move paid off as he selected 18-year-old Lesley Ugochukwu and 17-year-old Désiré Doué in midfield, either side of Croatia’s Lovro Majer.

Brittany side Rennes again proved a tough opponent, having beaten PSG to win the French Cup in 2019 and beating PSG at home 2-0 last season.

“We knew we were in for a difficult game and so it proved,” Galtier said. “Rennes was far too comfortable in defence.”

PSG’s wobbles could hardly have come at a worse moment with the season-defining Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich next month while is fast approaching while Lens and Marseille continue to chase down their lead at the top of Ligue 1.

“This is a tight league, but I’m not used to watch the standings. I’m focusing on performances, and I have work to do,” Galtier said.

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