How can PSG be THIS bad with 'freaks' Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar up front?!

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Lionel Messi and Neymar were ineffective, Kylian Mbappe wasn't much better, and PSG were held scoreless in a disappointing 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are footballing freaks. Few, if any, players in the world possess the same ability as Paris Saint-Germain's attacking trio when the ball is at their feet. In theory, having the them all play in the same team should be a recipe for overwhelming success.

And yet, here we are again, with yet another post-mortem of a disappointing Champions League knockouts performance from one of the world's richest clubs.

Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich at Parc des Princes leaves Christophe Galtier's side with a mountain to climb in Germany in three weeks' time. Another embarrassingly early European exit is more likely than not right now.

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What was perhaps more concerning than the final result, however, was the performance that PSG put in. Playing at home as one of the favourites to win the competition, they were toothless for over an hour before a half-fit Mbappe was introduced off the bench.

It was a display more akin to a team who were just trying to survive against a visiting juggernaut than a side who believed they could actually win the game. So often in Ligue 1, PSG play the role that Bayern did on Tuesday. Now, the tables had been turned, and it wasn't pretty for anyone associated with the French champions.

So why were they so bad, and what can be done to fix the problems before the second leg in Munich?

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The easy answer would be to get Mbappe back to full fitness. The France superstar was originally slated to miss the first leg, but made a surprise return to training on Sunday before being named on the bench two days later.

In the 36 minutes he was on the pitch, PSG looked like a different team. There was clearly an extra desperation to their game having fallen behind to Kingsley Coman's volleyed strike, but Mbappe's presence up front allowed them to play much differently than they had done up to that point.

Suddenly they had an out-ball when they won possession in defence; a player to stretch the field and test a Bayern defence that had spent much of the night with their feet up, watching the game largely unfold in front of them.

That sudden improvement with Mbappe on the pitch, though, speaks to the problem that underpins PSG's constant failures at the highest level: A lack of structure or accountability from those who are meant to be leading the way.

Let's start with the structure. While PSG set up to defend deep against Bayern, their shape quickly became messy, with notional wide midfielders Warren Zaire-Emery and Carlos Soler moving inside into their more natural central positions.

Soon, PSG were simply being played through, effectively cut apart. For almost the entirety of the first 10 minutes they were pinned back, forced into rash challenges and last-ditch tackles to win the ball back.

At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, there wasn't much help being offered.

Messi and Neymar don't have positions these days. Neymar likes to play in the left channel, as long as he can start with the ball somewhere around the centre circle. Messi still tucks in from the right wing, but prefers to float between the midfield and defensive lines. Neither player will run after a ball knocked into space, or stretch an opposing defence.

That's acceptable when there is a system around the duo that accounts for their shortcomings — one with a player, or ideally multiple players, that can run in behind, or chase a lost cause. But on Tuesday, that player - Mbappe - wasn't there, and neither of his partners in crime were willing to step up and do something different.

The result was a PSG side that looked lost on the rare occasions they got hold of the ball. Their issues were clear early on as Sergio Ramos tried to ping a pass away from pressure. With no easy options and Bayern midfielders advancing on him, the defender was forced to launch his effort into touch.

PSG failed to adjust as the half wore on. Marco Verratti, Danilo Pereira and Marquinhos regularly found themselves gasping for air, suffocated by Bayern's press.

"I think the individual will win you a game, but structure will make sure you’re not going to lose it," explained France legend Thierry Henry to CBS post-match. "If you have that standpoint, then your so-called ‘freaks’ can win you the game.

"PSG don’t have structure at the minute and haven’t had structure for a very long time. It’s always about, ‘Can you win me the game, individuals?’. Football doesn’t work like that. Structure is key."

It's clear that the way PSG set up on Tuesday was detrimental to getting the best out of Messi and Neymar, but that is not to say that the finger of blame shouldn't also be pointed towards them.

Galtier was meant to be the manager who overlooked the egos inside the PSG dressing room and created a system and accountability that would finally allow the team to succeed. Instead, it seems like he, like so many before him, is having to bow to those who really hold the power at Parc des Princes.

"I ask the team to play for Leo and work for him," Galtier said after Messi scored the winning goal against Toulouse 10 days ago. "He must be exempted from certain tasks. His team-mates must redouble their efforts to recover and create movement so that he can find passes, which are so rare in today's football, in such small spaces."

The narrative of Messi walking around the pitch when he doesn't have the ball is one that has grown as age has begun to catch up with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, and it can be forgiven if he then produces moments of magic when in possession, as he did so memorably at the World Cup in Qatar.

But in a team that lacks structure such as PSG, every player needs to be pulling their weight with and without the ball. Asking others to do the work of up to three of their team-mates should not be allowed to stand.

On Tuesday, PSG's midfield ran themselves into the ground. They were harassed on the ball, and sprinted relentlessly when they didn't have it. And, when they made a mistake, they were met by scowls and gesticulations from an increasingly antsy Neymar.

The obvious solution, then, is to ask more out of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe. But who has the final word: the manager, or the superstars he coaches?

It's a question that every PSG manager in recent years has been forced to answer. Usually, the superstars win, and most weeks it doesn't matter. Messi, Mbappe and Neymar are typically so good going forward that their work off the ball - or lack thereof - is irrelevant. But in games like Tuesday's, when PSG need to defend with 10, work with 10, and run with 10, the rigidity of their front three is glaring.

The trio don't necessarily have to mould into a deadly pressing machine. Messi lacks legs, Neymar lacks inclination, and Mbappe, right now, isn't fully fit.

It comes down to Galtier to find a system and a structure that works for everyone in his team, not just his 'freaks' up front.