Messi, the player who never went out

Lionel Messi was replaced in the middle of the game on Sunday night, when his club did not lead in the score. What had not happened to him since … 2008.

When the coach of the Lionel Messi thinks about making a change, he thinks of the Argentinian last. It is the rule, or in any case it was until Sunday evening, and the 76th minute of PSG-Lyon. At that time, Mauricio Pochettino dared the unthinkable: to bring out the Argentinian jewel, to bring in Achraf Hakimi. And this while the score was not done, at all, since there was 1-1 on the scoreboard.

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To find any trace of such a scenario, we have to go back to… 2008, and a meeting between Zaragoza and the Barça. Frank Rijkaard, who was then the coach of the Blaugranas, had released Messi late in the game, when there was 1-1, to launch Bojan Krkic. At the time, it was not quite the same Messi, since he had not won the first of his six Golden Balls.

Normally, when Messi goes out, it’s because there is 4-0 for his team

Lately, for Messi to leave the field (without being forced to do so by an injury), there had to be 4-0 for his team and « La Pulga » had already scored his double. This was the exact situation the last time Messi came out in game, against Granada (4-0) in January 2021, and the two previous times. We have to go back to January 2018 against Celta Vigo (5-0) and April 2017 against Osasuna (7-1), and each time, therefore, there was precisely 4-0 for Barça when Messi, after scoring two times, was asked to huff after about an hour of play.

Every other time, therefore, Messi was injured when he came out. Against Lyon, it seems the Argentine was slightly affected, but not to the point of justifying his replacement, judging by his reaction. Otherwise, in normal times, Messi never goes out. Since January 2010, he had only been substituted 17 times in 370 appearances for Barca, according to Opta. Before Reims-PSG, he had played in their entirety the last 30 matches for which he was available, with Barça and Argentina. With PSG, it’s different.

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