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Football | France

Barton, Beckham to lock horns



The Ligue 1 clash between Paris St Germain and Olympique Marseille could also feature a tasty battle between English midfielders David Beckham and Joey Barton who have little in common apart from their home country.

"We are totally opposite characters, Beckham and I. I take it as a compliment," Barton told reporters on Tuesday.

"Sometimes I'd like to have a bit of positive media comments but I don't envy the intrusions into the private life."

Barton has become a regular starter for Marseille after joining on loan from Queens Park Rangers this season, while former England captain Beckham looks set to make his PSG debut on Sunday at the Parc des Princes following his high-profile arrival last month.

Barton has been on his best behaviour in Ligue 1 since he made his debut last November after serving a 12-match ban for violent conduct in QPR's final Premier League match of last season against Manchester City.

"I don't mean no disrespect but he (Beckham) is not as scary as when he was playing in the Premier League," he said, referring to Beckham's 1993-2003 career in the English top flight with Manchester United.

"PSG have a lot of stars, Beckham is the latest, but on the pitch he is not our main concern. It would be naive from us to focus on him."

The contrast between Barton's career and Beckham's celebrity lifestyle is also epitomised by Sunday's clash between a club who have been living within their means and Qatar-backed PSG who have spent over 200 million euros on transfers in the past two years.

The atmosphere is likely to be red hot with PSG leading third-placed OM by five points after 25 rounds of Ligue 1 matches.

"I am an experienced player, I know the music. I've played City v United derbies, Sunderland v Newcastle, QPR v Chelsea," Barton said.

He also knows he will need to control his emotions.

"It's not the easiest," he said. "The last time I did not (control my emotions), I got a 12-match ban."

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