Beckham's debut dominates the headlines but Ancelotti has plenty of food for thought
Paris Saint-Germain edged past bitter rivals Marseille in a less-than-convincing "Classique," but the result raised more questions than answers for coach Carlo Ancelotti on David Beckham’s debut.
The first: Yes, Posh Spice was there. But after that, PSG will need to rectify a few difficulties ahead of Wednesday’s Coupe de France rematch in the capital after Elie Baup’s side were unlucky not to come away with at least a point.
Les Parisiens re-establish a three-point lead over Lyon at the top of Ligue 1 with the result, and the capital club prove that they can handle the sky-high expectations currently surrounding them. Just about.
Here are six things we can take from the result.
Beckham's renowned passing ability came to the fore in his cameo appearance
The game, whichever way you look at it, was about one man: David Beckham. It turned out that his 15-minute cameo was worth the wait, though far from spectacular.
Still, though, during that short quarter of an hour, the 37-year-old proved a number of things to the PSG fans, management and doubters queuing round the block that he would make any impact at all in Ligue 1.
Beckham illustrated his desire, his hunger to impress and be part of a successful team once again (not to say LA Galaxy were not successful, I just mean since he left Major League Soccer), but most of all, his untouched technical ability.
Beckham will keep going until his legs give in, but until that moment he will remain a technically superb footballer.
His pinged passes, his desire to get involved in the thick of the action and his delightful dinked one-two pass to Jeremy Menez in the build-up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal justify why he is prolonging his career that little bit longer. It is because he can.
His debut was not superb, nor was it mediocre. It was good, and he was not out of his depth as many claimed he would be. Nothing more, nothing less. He has a long way to go still to prove that his arrival is as beneficial on the field as it is off it, but the bottom line is that part of that brand is a very good football player.
Barton's performance in midfield for OM was impressive
The star of the show at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night ended up on the losing side. Marseille’s very own Englishman was not completely overshadowed or upstaged by his compatriot Beckham, as he almost inspired OM to a famous victory over PSG.
The hosts were second best for the majority of the game thanks largely to Barton’s dominant midfield display. He was disciplined, focused and free of the controversial stigma that surrounds him so often in the English Premier League. This performance, for once, was about the football.
The 30-year-old enjoyed his showdown duel with Blaise Matuidi in the centre of the Parc and put in an all-action performance to equal his counterpart. Whilst Beckham grabs the headlines after his fruitful cameo, Barton should deservedly take the plaudits instead.
Ibrahimovic is enduring a disappointing spell of form with PSG
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been blowing hot and cold for PSG of late. One thing was evident against OM on Sunday night though—Carlo Ancelotti’s side will not win this Ligue 1 title thanks to Zlatan alone.
What I’m getting at is it is a team effort, and by team I mean that one of his teammates will do the work when he doesn’t. That man is Lucas Moura.
The Brazilian is stamping his authority on the side more than Ibra, Beckham and Javier Pastore can, and in less time, too.
Whilst the Swede’s 22 goals this season cannot be forgotten, it will be the 20-year-old Brazilian's support of his teammate that sees PSG over the finish line.
Valbuena's ability is not in question but his teammates are not of the same calibre
Elie Baup’s side gave it their best shot at the Parc des Princes but they came up short. They dominated their hosts in spells but could not take their chances when it really mattered.
Andre-Pierre Gignac and Mathieu Valbuena wasted good opportunities to get OM back into the game and possibly give them the lead, but instead they paid for their inability to convert a host of good chances with the second PSG goal that came against the run of play.
Gignac and Valbuena are good, but alone they are not capable of firing les Phoceens to the title. The Ayew brothers’ contributions of seven goals apiece are not enough for players of their ability, and the emphasis on the former pair’s roles was amplified here.
Perhaps obvious before this match, Marseille just don’t have enough telling quality in the key areas to genuinely mount a title challenge.
Verratti currently looks uncomfortable and less composed on the ball for PSG
Marco Verratti is not the “new Andrea Pirlo” just yet.
The young midfielder has enjoyed a season to remember, but his performance against Marseille confirmed his recent slump in form.
The diminutive Italian’s lack of discipline and loss of confidence has dented the swaggering style that we saw from the 20-year-old earlier in the season. This is obviously down to a lack of maturity.
Ancelotti appears to have lost a bit of faith in the youngster. Perhaps a loan move back to Serie A or to another side in France next season will serve him better as he gets used to first-team football without so much pressure on his shoulders. The potential is there; he just needs time to develop.
For now though, there is little or no difference in quality between Beckham and Verratti in that role, and for once, experience should perhaps be put before promise to ensure that there are no slip-ups.
Mandanda has looked short of confidence for OM this season
The game was a tale of one goalkeeper: Salvatore Sirigu. But Steve Mandanda’s role could be easily scrutinised given the season he is having.
The French international has made a string of high-profile errors including at Valenciennes and Rennes to name two, but he could perhaps have done better with Lucas Moura’s heavily-deflected opener and was made to look helpless with PSG’s late winner.
Perhaps I am being a touch too harsh on the 27-year-old, but it was his shaky performance outside of the goals that he conceded that swayed me. Unsure of himself and lacking any authority despite his status as captain, Mandanda looks a liability for OM at the back on current form.
Sirigu though, was inspired. In arguably the best game of his career, the Italian made a string of spectacular saves to keep Elie Baup’s men out and was undoubtedly the difference between the two sides on the night.
Still behind Gianluigi Buffon in the pecking order for Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri side, it surely won’t be long before Sirigu’s claims are too strong to overlook. Mandanda, on the other hand, is lucky not to be usurped by Saint-Etienne’s fine, underrated shot-stopper Stephane Ruffier.