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Football | France

PSG take on Olympique Marseille

Whether he plays or not, David Beckham alone will generate more headlines than the clash against Olympique Marseille as the former England captain makes his first appearance at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

The 37-year-old midfielder, past his prime, will be presented as a Paris St Germain player to the crowd before the leaders take on third-placed OM, who trail by five points.

His celebrity lifestyle epitomises PSG's lavish spending policy as the Qatar-backed club have poured over €200 million into transfers in the last two years, in sharp contrast with Marseille's frugal philosophy.

Beckham's every move from the five-star Bristol Hotel in Paris has been chased by motor bike-mounted paparazzis and for once, the OM fans' bus might not be the most-awaited vehicle around the Parc des Princes.

While Beckham will be welcomed by some 47 000 fans, Marseille players seem unfazed by the former Manchester United's presence.

"He is a great player. When I was a kid, I would watch him on TV, I saw him do great things and win trophies but he is not my idol," OM striker Andre Ayew told the club's website (www.om.net).

PSG, who will meet Marseille again at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday in a French Cup last 16 game, are much more formidable as a collective unit according to Ayew.

"In the French league, there is no other team like Paris," the Ghana striker said.

"They have very good players, who are experienced. And they play better as a team. Little by little, it clicks. They can make some damage in France and in Europe but they are still beatable."

Sochaux upset PSG 3-2 last Sunday, ending their nine-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1.

Beckham, if coach Carlo Ancelotti decides he is fit to start or play part of the game, will be used as a defensive midfielder or on the right flank.

"He'll bring us experience, quality and professionalism. Those are things we need," Ancelotti told reporters.

"Our current tactical system gives us confidence and won't be changed for him. He can play central midfield or on the right."

Nice, four points behind Marseille, could narrow the gap when they face Stade Reims at home on Friday. They will be without striker Dario Cvitanich whose return was further delayed because of a thigh injury.

They will again rely on teenager Neal Maupay, who at 16 has scored his first three goals in Ligue 1 this season.

Second-placed Olympique Lyon, three points behind PSG, host Lorient in Sunday's curtain-raiser


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