Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti pledged today that David Beckham will “definitely start” against Barcelona next week.
The former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder started in the Champions League for the first time in three years in Tuesday’s 2-2 quarter-finals, first-leg tie at Parc des Princes.
He was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go – playing top-level club soccer against the best team on the planet aged 37 can be tiring, we imagine – and his performance drew criticism from some sections of the French media. (What are they complaining about? The guy’s playing for free! Can’t beat that for value.)
But Ancelotti said that the bad reviews were “unjust“, “not normal” and that Beckham had “a really good match”. The Italian also denied that PSG’s brand-aware Qatari owners had ordered him to pick the ex-England captain. All set for a repeat next Wednesday at the Nou Camp, then.
All in all, matters ultimately went PSG’s way on Tuesday. Not so much this afternoon as their lead at the top of Ligue 1 was cut.
Andre-Pierre Gignac’s 41st-minute goal was enough for Marseille to beat mid-table Bordeaux 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome.
That win reduced PSG’s advantage over their great rivals to four points, though Ancelotti’s side have played a game fewer. And their fixture list is highly favorable down the stretch, with only a trip to third-placed Lyon likely to tax them significantly.
With eight games still to play for most teams, there’s a while to go. Beating Barcelona is surely a long shot. But it looks highly likely that all the Middle-Eastern investment in the club will finally pay off, and – somewhat remarkably for such a famous club in France’s biggest city – PSG will claim their first domestic league title since 1993-94. After his success in MLS Cup with L.A., it’d be Beckham’s second championship in six months.
The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.
Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore
Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski
Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.
[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]
The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.
The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.
Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.
T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.
Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.
Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.
Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.
[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]
Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.
With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.
Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.
France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.
Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.
[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]
Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):
At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.
When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.
What do you think?