10-time French Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain was without two of their biggest stars, Lionel Messi and Neymar, who were still on World Cup triumphant celebration and suspended due to a red card against Strasbourg at home respectively when they lost their first league game this season, which also happened to be their first league defeat since March 2022. A loss to RC Lens away from home at Estadio Bollaert-Delelis meant the team from the northern city of Lens in the Pas-de-Calais department now trails only four points from French Ligue 1 leader PSG, poising serious threats to the defending French league champion.
Kylian Mbappé and Hugo Ekitiké Up Front, But to No Avail
Since PSG was without two of their best forwards, the newly-crowned World Cup Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappé led the champion’s attack with Stade de Reims’ loanee Hugo Ekitiké, and it was the latter’s goal who saved PSG from further embarrassment as he equalised for the team after Lens’ Przemysław Frankowski opened the scoring as early as in the 5th minute. Nonetheless, the FIFA World Cup as well as busy club football schedule have definitely taken their toll on PSG’s stars namely Mbappé, Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos, etc. as Lens quickly restored their lead in the first half, courtesy of a Loïs Openda strike. The 22-year-old forward broke away after Sergio Ramos mistimed his interception, before the former cleverly faked the opposing captain to score past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Lens continued to bully the champion for the rest of the game and did not had to wait long to find its third goal of the evening, with PSG players committing mistakes in their own half two minutes into the second 45 minutes, allowing Alexis Claude-Maurice to slot home his first league goal for Lens, after sealing a season-long loan to the club.
Exhausted Mbappé and Hakimi Given a Few Days Off, Spent Them Watching Durant and Co Live
Christophe Galtier aware that his star men are suffering from fatigue due to the hectic club and country timetable, so he promptly gave both Mbappé and Hakimi a few days off after the defeat against Lens. The pair, who is close on and off the field took their time to catch other sports stars in action: Watching an NBA clash between the Brooklyn Nets and the San Antonio Spurs live at the Barclays Center. The 24-year-old forward, who is also a two-time World Cup medalist, was given a warm welcome by the fans, with the Nets displaying video highlights of him scoring a hat-trick against Argentina in the recent World Cup final. Mbappé and Hakimi were also pictured to share their moments with NBA megastars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, etc.
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Hero’s Welcome for Messi
Just days after PSG’s defeat against Lens, the 2022 FIFA World Cup winning captain from Argentina and the eventual Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi resumed his club duties and trained with his club. Prior to the training session, La Pulga received a guard of honour by his teammates and PSG’s coaching staff, with Christophe Galtier presenting a trophy to his star talisman as a recognition to his incredible achievement in the prestigious competition. Paris Saint-Germain is set to play La Châteauroux in the Round of 16 of the French Cup this weekend at home, and it will be interesting to see whether Messi will be celebrated and welcomed by the French fans, after the Argentina team led by him defeated France in the most entertaining World Cup final ever.
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