Three days after meeting in the league, bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille will meet again at the Parc des Princes in the last 16 of the French Cup on Wednesday, with David Beckham expected to make his first start for PSG.
Beckham made his long-awaited debut in the ‘Le Classique’ on Sunday when he came off the bench for the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s game, which PSG won 2-0 thanks to an early Nicolas Nkoulou own-goal and an untidy stoppage-time counter from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to maintain their three-point lead over Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.
PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti say enough good things in Beckham’s display to give him the starting nod for Wednesday match.
“Yes, Beckham will start in the position of (suspended midfielder) Marco Verratti,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“It’s an important position. Beckham must help make the play and defensively have a good tactical position on the pitch – he will have the same things to do as Verratti,” said Ancelotti, who believes the 37-year-old still has plenty to offer.
“Can he still take corners and freekicks? He has the quality to do so,” said the Italian. “Beckham can play a whole match, he has the quality to play in the middle of the park.”
The French media built up last weekend’s match as one between the devil Joey barton and the angel Daviod Beckham. While Beckham got all the media attention, Barton quietly was one of Marseille’s best players and they will need a similar performance from him on Wednesday.
While PSG are targeting a domestic league and cup double, something they have never achieved before, this match is arguably more important for Marseille.
They are now eight points adrift of top spot in Ligue 1, meaning the Cup represents their only realistic hope of winning any silverware this season.
The Marseille squad have stayed in the Paris area to prepare for what will be the fourth meeting of the clubs this season, with PSG having won one and drawn one of the two league encounters.
The clubs last met in the competition in the 2006 final, when PSG won 2-1, and the capital side have a good record in the French Cup, having won the trophy eight times altogether. Their most recent triumph came in 2010, while they also lost the 2011 final to Lille.
In contrast, Marseille have won the trophy a record ten times, but not at all since 1989.
The game is one of three ties between top-flight clubs, with Sochaux taking on Troyes and Lorient facing Brest in a Brittany derby while Saint-Etienne play host to Lille in a repeat of last month’s League Cup semi-final, which Les Verts won on penalties.
Lower-league teams have done well in the French Cup in recent seasons, with third-tier Quevilly going all the way to last season’s final.
Another third-tier side, Epinal, are still in the competition after beating the holders Lyon on penalties in the Round of 64, and they now travel to second-tier Lens.
The lowest-ranked survivors, however, are amateurs Minguettes Venissieux, of the fifth tier, who take on Ligue 1 strugglers Nancy.
French Cup last 16 fixtures
Sochaux v Troyes
Evian v Le Havre
Saint-Etienne v Lille
Lorient v Brest
Raon-l’Etape v Bordeaux
Minguettes Venissieux v Nancy
Paris Saint-Germain v Marseille
Lens v Epinal