Do you know who you don’t hear much about these days? David Beckham. I know, now there’s a blast from the past! Well, it seems that the former Manchester United star is still playing football, because I’ve seen his name on the squad sheet for Paris St-Germain ahead of their Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Valencia.
No, I hadn’t read anything about that either. It must be that low profile he keeps.
Okay, before I get sent to the naughty step for having a proper pop at England’s Sweetheart I will stop there, but as you’ve no doubt gathered, Beckham will be the centre of attention on Wednesday when his new side PSG look to cement their position as a European powerhouse with a run in the competition they all want to win.
When is Beckham never the centre of attention, I hear you ask, and you’d be right to do so.
Quite how the former Real Madrid star continues to have a hold over the press (football, that is, not the tabloid, which is to be expected) in England is baffling: a once excellent player, he ceased to be so at least seven years ago, yet you would think from the coverage that we are discussing England’s great white hope.
Nonetheless, Beckham is back in the Champions League after signing a short-term deal to be reunited with Carlo Ancelotti, who signed him in a loan move when in charge of AC Milan.
Whether it is on a footballing basis or to flog some shirts is a moot point, but Beckham looks set to play for his fourth different club in Europe’s top competition, alongside that other shy, retiring ego-less star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is playing for a record sixth Champions League side.
But whether Beckham starts or not, Ibra certainly won’t as he is suspended thanks to the late red card he received in the 2-1 win in the Mestalla three weeks ago.
Regardless of that obvious blow, PSG should be confirming their appearance in the quarter-finals with a win over Valencia. Ancelotti’s side are 83/100 to do just that, with the draw 27/10 and the Spaniards at 29/10, and I can’t see beyond a home win at Parc des Princes.
With all the money that has been pumped into PSG from their Qatari owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi (over £200 million in transfer fees alone), a run in the Champions League is a must for Ancelotti, who of course knows all about winning this tournament after his successes with Milan in 2003 and 2007, and it is so far, so good.
Winning a group at Porto’s expense was impressive and with three victories from three at home thus far (with ten goals scored), the Ligue 1 leaders can make it a fourth by seeing off a Valencia side that have struggled on the road this term.
One place and one point behind Malaga in fourth in La Liga, Ernesto Valverde’s side have won just four of their 14 away league games, scoring a measly 11 goals and keeping only two clean sheets.
By contrast, PSG’s Champions League home form has been replicated domestically. Ancelotti’s side have conceded just seven home goals in Ligue 1 all year, keeping ten clean sheets in their 14 games, and have taken 19 from the last 21 available at the Parc des Princes.
The loss of Ibrahimovic should be more than compensated by the quality of Ezequiel Lavezzi, who already has four Champions League goals to his name this season, including the opener three weeks ago, and I feel PSG will be too strong for Los Che as their quest for European dominance continues apace.