Almost a week after David Beckham’s move to Paris Saint-Germain was announced, and the club’s website still has an image of their sharply-suited new signing holding aloft a team shirt on the splash page. You can hardly blame them for making the most of this coup de théâtre.
Even with the former England captain not expected to arrive and begin training with his new chums until February 13th, it looks as if the magic is starting to rub off already. His new team produced one of their best performances of the season on Friday night in a potentially tricky fixture, going to Toulouse and steamrollering their hosts 4-0, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore in particularly top-notch form.
With that and a couple of other crucial results at the top at the weekend, PSG finally made the break at the top of the table, moving three points clear and making us wonder if by the time Becks is fully operational, will he just be joining a victory parade?
Toulouse’s former Juventus defender Jonathan Zebina spoke for many when he told French TV on Sunday afternoon that “it was always a matter of time until PSG broke away from the rest.” Neither second and third-placed Lyon and Marseille’s respective defeats at Ajaccio and at home to Nancy seemed on the cards, and the unexpected nature of these reverses suggested that maybe the week of hype had affected PSG’s competitors more than it did themselves.
Whatever the reasons, it was fair warning to Beckham that he will be arriving in a fiercely competitive league where few fixtures are formalities. Ajaccio is always a tough away trip, habitually on a bumpy pitch in front of a spiky crowd, in stark contrast to the picturesque hilltops that surround the Stade François Coty. Beckham won’t have to endure it himself – PSG already limped to a goalless draw there back in August, with Ezequiel Lavezzi and coach Carlo Ancelotti both sent off.
Ajaccio have a little more craft now, thanks to Adrian Mutu. He has come a long way since he (presumably jokingly) laid down a unilateral challenge to Ibrahimovic at his Ajaccio signing press conference that he’d outscore him in Ligue 1 this season. Without a proper pre-season, he looked sluggish and overweight in his first games in France but has since become the islanders’ talisman, with the double against Lyon bringing his total to a respectable seven goals in 17 games.
In arguably an even bigger surprise, Marseille fell to relegation favourites Nancy, in a match that saw Joey Barton pick up his first red card, for two bookings. In a nation that regularly sees him as a footballer rather than a Twitter wind-up merchant, Barton has actually made a pretty good impression on his adopted nation, and his calm on the ball has added plenty to OM’s midfield. They have a thin squad, and it’ll be interesting to see how they do without him – though he’ll be back for a potential Coupe de France meet-up with Beckham on February 27th.
It looks like PSG will give Beckham a run-out in that one. In a Ligue 1 weekend full of turn-ups, Ancelotti insisted he has a big part to play. “He can play in every position in midfield,” he told BeInSport. “Defensively, with the quality of passing he has or on the right, even if he doesn’t have Lucas’ pace.” Becks won’t get that lap of honour without shedding a few beads of sweat first, it seems.
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