Three days after clashing in the league, bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille are to meet again at the Parc des Princes in the last 16 of the French Cup today, with David Beckham a possible starter for the home side.
Beckham made his long-awaited debut for the club 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 Olympique Lyonnais at the top of Ligue 1.
There is a good chance that the veteran Englishman will start the latest edition of a fixture known as Le Classique, with Beckham himself insisting that he is nearing full fitness and manager Carlo Ancelotti having to do without the suspended Marco Verratti for the game.
“He brought his passing quality, experience and tactical positioning to the game,” Ancelotti said of Beckham in Sunday’s match.
“I’m very close to being 100 percent fit now,” Beckham added.
While PSG are targeting a domestic league and cup double, something they have never achieved before, this match is arguably more important for Marseille.
L’OM are eight points adrift of top spot in Ligue 1, so the Cup is 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.
They also won 2-0 when the teams met in the last 16 of the League Cup in October last year.
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. Their most recent triumph came in 2010, while they also lost the 2011 final to LOSC Lille Metropole.
In contrast, Marseille have won the trophy a record 10 times, but not at all since 1989.
The game is one of three ties between top-flight clubs, with Sochaux-Montbeliard to take on ES Troyes AC yesterday and Lorient facing Stade Brestois 29 today in a Brittany derby, while AS Saint-Etienne were to 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 recently, 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 are to travel to play against second-tier Lens tomorrow.
However, the lowest-ranked survivors are amateurs Minguettes Venissieux, of the fifth tier, who take on Ligue 1 strugglers AS Nancy-Lorraine today.
In other Cup fixtures, Evian Thonon Gaillard were to face Le Havre yesterday, while Raon-l’Etape take on Girondins de Bordeaux today.