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Football | France

PSG focus on Sochaux amid Becks circus



After a week dominated by David Beckham and a fine Champions League win in Spain, Paris Saint-Germain must focus their minds on the return to domestic duty ahead of their trip to play Sochaux on Sunday.

The Ligue 1 leaders are in a strong position to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a 2-1 victory against Valencia in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.

A day later, Beckham trained with his new teammates for the first time, drawing crowds of journalists from across the world to PSG's base in the western Paris suburbs.

The capital club's coach Carlo Ancelotti hinted last week that the 37-year-old Englishman – who agreed a five-month contract at the end of January – might make his debut at the mundane surroundings of Sochaux's Stade Bonal, in the shadow of the Peugeot works that are the the small eastern town's raison d'etre.

Just in case he does turn out, members of the world's media will again be present and there will be a sell-out crowd of 20 000 in attendance.

But Beckham should just be a sideshow to PSG's quest for another win that would see them maintain a healthy lead over Lyon and Marseille at the top of the table.

They started the weekend six points clear of OL, and are on a run of 13 games unbeaten in all competitions which includes 12 wins.

"The team is in good shape just now. We have built up lots of confidence," said Ezequiel Lavezzi, who netted the opening goal in Valencia.

Sochaux, meanwhile, lie in the relegation zone.

"Everybody knows that PSG are a great team," said Sochaux's Algerian international playmaker Ryad Boudebouz.

"But if we play without fear we will have a chance of winning the game."

Ancelotti has a doubt over Brazilian Lucas for the encounter, while it looks like Thiago Silva will need more time yet before returning from a thigh injury.

Second-placed Lyon had kept pace for such a long time, but their chances have been seriously undermined by back-to-back league defeats against Ajaccio and Lille.

They have a tough trip to Bordeaux on Sunday in a game that comes less than 72 hours after both clubs faced tough away ties in Europe.

OL were in London to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg on Thursday, while Bordeaux had a long trip to Ukraine to take on Dynamo Kiev.

Lyon will be without injury-prone former Bordeaux playmaker Yoann Gourcuff for the game, and possibly for up to three weeks, because of a thigh problem.

Marseille have also seen their form take a dip since the winter break, but they will hope that being out of Europe turns out to be an advantage for them.

The south-coast club will be seeking revenge when they play host to Valenciennes, who thumped them 4-1 in the reverse fixture in September.

They have won just once in five league outings in 2013, however.

"We are the biggest threat to our own chances," warned coach Elie Baup.

"It is up to us to beat Valenciennes. Taking all three points is imperative because we have dropped a lot since the winter break."

OM are now looking over their shoulders, with Saint-Etienne and Rennes both just three points behind them in the race for Champions League qualification.

Saint-Etienne travel to struggling Reims on Sunday, while Rennes go to Lille on Friday without Jonathan Pitroipa, who is rested after his return from the Africa Cup of Nations.

After completing a ban from playing in their own stadium, Bastia will play in front of their own fans in Corsica for the first time since the end of November when they entertain Nice.

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