Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

David Beckham tipped to feature as Paris Saint-Germain face acid test

David Beckham

Paris Saint-Germain will face the litmus test of the club's progress when they host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tonight.

PSG have made headlines for a multimillion-pound spending spree which has brought the likes of the striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, centre-half Thiago Silva and Brazil winger Lucas to the French capital, but now the club are aiming to make their mark on the pitch against Barcelona. But to do that, Carlo Ancelotti's team has to find a way to keep Lionel Messi quiet. He already has 56 goals to his credit this season.

 

"How do you beat them? Good question," said Ibrahimovic, who has 29 goals overall himself this season, yesterday. "We will have to concentrate on our way of playing and the coach will choose the right tactics for this match against, without doubt, the best team in the world."

 

The Swede was set to miss today's game against his former club after receiving a two-match ban when he was sent off late in the first leg of the last 16 match against Valencia. But the ban was reduced to one game after PSG appealed.

 

"I'm very happy to be able to play," Ibrahimovic said. "That's justice. I don't think I deserved a two-match suspension."

 

The club's chairman, Nasser al-Khelaifi, yesterday revealed that he wants former England captain David Beckham to extend his contract with the French club for another year.

 

With Thiago Motta out injured, the chances of 37-year-old Beckham being involved tonight have increased. And it looks increasingly likely that he will stay beyond his current five-month deal, with the player, coach Carlo Ancelotti, and now the chairman, all saying how pleased they are with the arrangement.

 

"We are going to talk with him about it. But frankly, we really want to keep him with us next season," Khelaifi told the French sports daily L'Equipe. "He's fantastic, on and off the pitch. Signing David has been one of my best decisions. He has really made an impact in this squad. Everybody loves him."

 

Barça, meanwhile, have been boosted by the return from illness of their left-back Eric Abidal and coach Tito Vilanova. Both will travel to Paris having recovered from their respective treatments for cancer, but the centre-back Carles Puyol misses out through injury. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes will be back, while Xavi and left-back Jordi Alba have shaken off niggles and are set to play.

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