With their club losing 1-0 at home to Lille, it wasn’t the turnaround that PSG fans had expected at the end of the first half: superstar Lionel Messi withdrew, and Argentine Mauro Icardi took his place.

Messi was weak in the first half and played the role of “nine fouls” in the midfield of the attack. He gave the ball far and was often flown by defenders as Lille blocked the middle of the field. He struggled to create with his back to goal, sending the ball to compatriot Angel Di Maria in one instance where he landed a short break in Lille’s defence. He finished the ball with two shots wide and lost possession seven times.

But the switch had nothing to do with his performance and everything to do with the injury. During the match, L’Equipe reported that Messi had a muscle problem, and Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino later clarified that this step was a precaution and was made in consultation with the team’s doctors at the end of the first half. Pochettino did not reveal the nature of the injury, but a video clip from the match showed Messi clutching the back of his left leg:

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Will Lionel Messi play in the Champions League?

Asked if Messi will be able to recover in time to face Germany’s RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, Pochettino said he was hopeful. But he didn’t seem entirely convincing in his response in English during a post-game interview with Canal+ where he repeated “hope” three times, and again in French to avoid any confusion:

A translated version of his response to Messi’s situation was stated in a separate interview with Prime Video Sports France: “We have to wait. We were with the doctors in the first half and that was a precaution. He couldn’t continue. We hope it won’t be a big problem.”

The 34-year-old was suspicious of entering the match after he missed Thursday’s training due to muscle discomfort. But he was still in the starting lineup against Lille, taking a place that would have gone to Kylian Mbappe had he not been left out with an ear injury. Mbappe was on the stand at the Parc des Princes to witness the match, which Paris Saint-Germain brought from behind to win 2-1.

MORE: How PSG came from behind to beat champions Lille

Teammate Angel Di Maria, who scored the winning goal in the late game and also scored an assist in Messi’s absence, was quoted as telling Prime Sports France after the match, “It’s the same pain. [Messi] It has been since before the game. I think there is nothing dangerous. Just a precaution.”

Messi’s season with Paris Saint-Germain so far

This is not the first time that Messi has had to leave a Ligue 1 match due to injury.

He was controversially substituted in the final leg of the match against Olympique Lyonnais, making it clear that Pochettino couldn’t get him off the field. But days later, an MRI revealed a bruise in his left knee bone that forced him to miss the club’s next league game.

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Messi has missed six of 11 Ligue 1 matches for various reasons since signing with the club on August 10. The match against Lille was Messi’s fifth appearance in the first division and he has yet to score a goal in the league match. It certainly will not go unnoticed. Here are some views on the French Ligue 1 drought from Opta:

But when it came to the UEFA Champions League, Messi didn’t miss a single minute of play, scoring three goals and helping Paris Saint-Germain top Group A with a 2-0-1 victory that put the club ahead of the Premier League title. Premier League champion Manchester City. It remains to be seen if his Champions League streak will continue on Wednesday.

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