Messi and Mbappe scored the most beautiful one-two of all time.
Messi and Mbappe scored the most beautiful one-two of all time.© Images AGN

 “Of course, Paris is in the title. “There’s not much doubt about it,” Lens manager Franck Haise said after his team lost 3-1 to Paris Saint-Germain. So, things will go on as usual. When Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe work together like this, how could PSG not keep their title?

The 2022-23 season’s most obvious race for the championship is coming to an end. With the win, PSG went nine points ahead of the surprise team in second place, Lens. There are only seven games left, and the only question is when Messi, Mbappe, and the rest of the team will win, not if they will.

Anyone could have guessed because of how well the Parisiens played in the first few months of the season. Before the World Cup break, Christophe Galtier had put together what was probably the most cohesive-looking PSG team of the QSI era, one that gave their front three a solid base to destroy their opponents.

This team looked the most like Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, which won three titles in a row. They were an unstoppable force with a hardworking middle and defence that let Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez wreck havoc in the final third.

When the World Cup came around, Messi and Mbappe still flew. In Qatar, one of them won and the other came in second. One of them was named the tournament’s best player, and the other was the top scorer. They scored a total of five goals in the most exciting final in years, and, of course, they made both of their penalty kicks.

How could PSG be stopped when they have two players who are among the best in the world and are at the top of their game? As it turns out, quite easily. Their season is going in a pretty typical way.

Messi and Mbappe were left alone and useless as PSG failed to score and lost to Bayern in the round of 16 of the Champions League. They were also knocked out of the French Cup by old rivals Marseille at home.

PSG has lost at least eight games in all tournaments in 2023, which is a shocking hangover from the World Cup. With five league losses since the World Cup, even the Ligue 1 title was in danger, and it was hard to imagine a season without a prize.

It seems possible that Messi will leave Paris in the next few weeks. The Argentinian was booed by PSG fans after they were kicked out of the Champions League, and talks to extend his contract have apparently come to a halt. A trip back to Barcelona could be on the cards.

No matter what happens from here on out, the Parisiens’ season in 2022-23 will be a poor one. Galtier will leave his job for sure. But Messi and Mbappe seem eager not to let what could be their last games together end with a whimper.

Look at how they messed around with title contenders Lens on Saturday night. Early on, their opponents were cut down to 10 players, and PSG looked ready to take advantage of this.

Mbappe scored the first goal with a typical clean finish after Messi had helped set up a nice moving play. With that goal, the 24-year-old became PSG’s all-time top scorer in Ligue 1.

A short time later, Vitinha scored again with a great long-range shot, and Messi soon put the home team up by three goals with the best of the bunch. After some fancy one-touch passing, the World Cup winner got the ball deep in Lens’ half. He then did one of his trademark crazy dribbles and went straight for the heart of the other team’s defence.

He passed the ball to Mbappe near the Lens goal, and with one beautiful backheel flick, Messi was through. You already know what will happen. You’ve seen it over and over again. In the bottom spot, there is no mistake.

It was a goal that made Messi the player who has scored the most goals in the top five teams in Europe.

“It’s easy to play with Lionel Messi,” Mbappe said back in 2021, not long after the Argentine arrived in Paris.

“He’s the best player in the whole world.”

The latest goal by PSG is the best example of how well the two greats work together.

Messi and Mbappe might not have had the right chemistry to take over the world together—this is PSG, after all—but when they’re in the mood, it’s pure football joy to watch them work together. Use it up while you can.

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