Beckham to make full debut in Marseille rematch

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Following his 15-minute cameo in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 league win over rivals Marseille at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night, David Beckham will get his chance to prove himself from the start in the Wednesday's rematch in Paris. Coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed it during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, electing to continue the former England captain’s inclusion.

The Italian insisted it was Beckham’s hard work on the training pitch and not his celebrity status that swayed him after Sunday's showing. He said: "I understand that there is a media infatuation with him, but above all I like the Beckham who I see training. He works hard, and he is humble every day."

In this Coupe de France rematch of the rivals, it is a chance for Beckham to prove his worth and fitness over 90 minutes. In the absence of suspended Marco Verratti, the Englishman will be given the chance to build on his encouraging start from the beginning of the match this time. Also, the continued absence of Thiago Motta will afford the 37-year-old ample opportunity to impress and stake his claim for a regular place alongside the irrepressible Blaise Matuidi.

With the media circus that surrounded his debut now out of the way, the move to start Beckham in the cup as opposed to the league is a wise decision by Ancelotti. The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy man can concentrate on his football with less pressure than Sunday, and Ancelotti, under less scrutiny himself, can really test Beckham in an important match.

Beckham played in the middle of the park for 16 minutes on Sunday and will likely reprise that role as Ancelotti changes his team to rest some weary faces but tries to send out a strong enough unit to ensure domestic cup progress. The balance is difficult with both matches hugely important to the course of PSG’s season, but Carletto appears to have his priorities right.

A cup exit, while highly disappointing to the club's hierarchy and fans, would potentially not be as costly as a league defeat would have. Ceding momentum back to Lyon so soon after wresting it from their control would have been dangerous for the club's title hopes and Ancelotti after the recent speculation regarding his future, so playing Beckham Wednesday is less of a risk for all parties.

The game could also pit him against his compatriot Joey Barton once again, assuming the 30-year-old starts again for les Phoceens. The OM star was instrumental for the capital side's rivals on Sunday and dominated the game, no easy feat against an in-form Matuidi, but still couldn't produce a result.

Jeremy Menez will also feature following his explosive five-minute showing on Sunday, where he directly provided the second goal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a score Beckham laid the foundation for. The move from Ancelotti will somewhat quell the immediate doubts surrounding Menez’s future inclusion in the team, although the player’s happiness is still a source of speculation.

Absent though, will be the Brazilian contingent of Lucas Moura and Alex (resting), Thiago Silva (injured) and Motta, also still on the treatment table. Silva and Motta should be back in time to face Valencia in the second leg of the capital club’s Champions League last-16 tie with the Spaniards.

One huge boost for les Parisiens will be the return of Mamadou Sakho to the defence. The French international missed out Sunday after failing a fitness test on the eve of the match. Sylvain Armand filled in admirably, putting in a heroic performance in his 400th appearance for the club.

One “living legend” (even if he does say so himself), Ibrahimovic, is included once more and will be eager to put Sunday’s disappointing showing behind him and add to his fantastic scoring record against OM. The youngest player in club history, Kingsley Coman (debut vs. Sochaux Feb. 17 at age 16 years, eight months and four days) has also been included.

Will Coman get the chance to become an instant legend, alongside Beckham, Ibra and Armand, perhaps?

ESPN Conversations