BRUGES: Club Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (Photo) Says he may face the world’s greatest footballer Lionel Messi when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday, but he takes consolation from a previous European encounter.
The 33-year-old Belgium international was part of the Liverpool squad that beat Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League semi-final second leg of 2019.
However, he admits that Brugge have a huge challenge ahead of them in their first group game against a PSG side who could field Messi and his two superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe together for the first time this season.
“It is normal that we are talking more about PSG than Club Brugge,” Mignolet said at the match-eve press conference.
“We are not only playing against PSG but also against the biggest star in the world.
“We are humble, we know we are playing against the strongest, but we accept the challenge.
“I’m proud to be on the same pitch and to play against players like that, but we have to be at our highest level to try to win the game.”
Mignolet, who was also on the bench for Liverpool’s final 2019 Champions League victory over Tottenham with Alisson Becker between the posts, said Bruges had put their plan in place to try and dampen PSG’s formidable strike force .
“We know that…” he said before bursting into laughter “… it will be difficult to keep the score at zero but it’s not just for me the goalkeeper.
“We have our plan. We worked to find the best way to defend as a unit and also to hurt them.
“With our supporters behind us, we are not alone.”
Club Brugge coach Philippe Clément said for his players that this clash was a stage in a rarefied atmosphere.
“This is the first time for many players to play against world-class opponents,” said Clement.
“It’s a different level even for Real Madrid that we played a few seasons ago.
“But these are the games you want to play, face the best in the world and prove yourself.”
Mignolet said the coaches left nothing to chance despite the reality of match time being impossible to replace.
“We laughed with the goalie coach because we have a machine that shoots balls at the same speed as the players,” he said.
“But I told him that no machine can do the same as the biggest star in the world.” – AFP