PSG invented the perfect kick-off

Due to so many vicissitudes all different from each other, last season we were unable to appreciate really the overwhelming force of the Paris Saint-Germain attack. Consider, for example, the almost always precarious condition of Messi and the repeated injuries of Neymar, up to the practically manifest misunderstandings between Mbappé and the other stars of the Parisian club, the poor feeling between the team and Pochettino, the tactical misunderstandings related to management – to say the least questionable – of the Argentine coach. It is as if we had missed a great opportunity: in its first year, the strongest trident in the world – probably one of the strongest in football history – gave us very few moments of true light, very few moments in which he showed his realimmense, quality.

We are now at the start of the second year and things are looking a little better. The figures say so: in the four games played so far, one in the Super Cup and three in Ligue 1, the PSG trident has put together 15 goals and eight assists; numerically, the best performing player was Neymar, who scored seven goals and six decisive passes. It is evident that the new tactical formula and the new rigid approach – not to mention severe – by Galtier have had a balsamic effect on the superstars of Paris, finally able to interact in a healthy, constructive way. It was the coach himself, in the press conference after yesterday’s 1-7 match at Lille, who said that “the most important thing I saw was the will to play for each other, to collaborate. , and therefore to have fun on the pitch ». It is a feeling that goes far beyond the numbers of goals and assists, it is a question of moments, of actions that return a real integration between three extraordinary stars. Like the incredible kick-off maneuver that determined Kylian Mbappé’s leading goal after just eight seconds of play, an absolute record in the history of the French top flight.

The first touch is from Neymar, straight from the kick off. The ball is received by Verratti, who stops it and then serves the Brazilian again. That, in those few moments, the first magic is invented: he pretends to attack the depth, to attack the lines of Lille, but then goes back to receive the return pass of the Italian midfielder. At that point Neymar stops the ball for Messi as if the Argentine were an American football quarterback, meanwhile Mbappé has already cut behind the midfield and Lille defense. Messi’s throw is perfectly balanced, and he finds Mbappé on the run, alone in front of the Lille goalkeeper. Even the French attacker’s lob is perfectly balanced, the ball bounces before the goal line and then settles gently on the net.

All in eight seconds

On YouTube there are many compilations of goals scored directly from kick-off, but most of these markings come from long shots or long balls, therefore from random actions, less studied than the one drawn by Neymar, Verratti, Messi and Mbappé. Other teams have also studied special mechanisms and routines for the first action of the match: in the year of promotion to the Premier League, for example, Brentford had invented a kick-off with a very high bell throw, a sort of drop kick. in rugby style to gain meters and determine a head tackle. We are obviously at a lower level than the perfect harmony of the combination between Neymar, Verratti, Messi and Mbappé, and probably the point is precisely this: Galtier has studied and exploited the enormous qualities of his champions to create a new tactical mechanism capable of surprising the opponents. To do it directly from kick-off in a non-random way, on the contrary prepared in every detail. Neither more nor less than the first set-piece schemes imagined and trained who knows how many years ago, and which today are an important part of the preparation of all teams, at all levels.