Apr 5, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti pledged today that David Beckham will “definitely start” against Barcelona next week.
The former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder started in the Champions League for the first time in three years in Tuesday’s 2-2 quarter-finals, first-leg tie at Parc des Princes.
He was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go – playing top-level club soccer against the best team on the planet aged 37 can be tiring, we imagine – and his performance drew criticism from some sections of the French media. (What are they complaining about? The guy’s playing for free! Can’t beat that for value.)
But Ancelotti said that the bad reviews were “unjust“, “not normal” and that Beckham had “a really good match”. The Italian also denied that PSG’s brand-aware Qatari owners had ordered him to pick the ex-England captain. All set for a repeat next Wednesday at the Nou Camp, then.
All in all, matters ultimately went PSG’s way on Tuesday. Not so much this afternoon as their lead at the top of Ligue 1 was cut.
Andre-Pierre Gignac’s 41st-minute goal was enough for Marseille to beat mid-table Bordeaux 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome.
That win reduced PSG’s advantage over their great rivals to four points, though Ancelotti’s side have played a game fewer. And their fixture list is highly favorable down the stretch, with only a trip to third-placed Lyon likely to tax them significantly.
With eight games still to play for most teams, there’s a while to go. Beating Barcelona is surely a long shot. But it looks highly likely that all the Middle-Eastern investment in the club will finally pay off, and – somewhat remarkably for such a famous club in France’s biggest city – PSG will claim their first domestic league title since 1993-94. After his success in MLS Cup with L.A., it’d be Beckham’s second championship in six months.
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