• Champions League

Beckham issues Barcelona rallying cry

ESPN staff
April 1, 2013
PSG prepare for Champions League clash with Barca

David Beckham has urged his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates to "convince" themselves they can overcome Barcelona in the Champions League.

Beckham, 37, is unlikely to be on the pitch at kick-off when PSG come up against the La Liga leaders at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

However, with many in Carlo Ancelotti's squad lacking the experience of such an occasion, the former England captain could have an important role to play.

"We're going to meet the challenge. We mustn't go out there thinking we're going to lose," Beckham, who has 105 Champions League appearances behind him, told beIN Sport. "They're perhaps the best team in the world, and [Lionel] Messi is the best player, but he's not out there on the pitch alone. We have to convince ourselves it's possible."

With Thiago Motta struggling to overcome a calf injury, Beckham will provide an alternative to the pairing of Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi in central midfield.

Ancelotti is likely to keep faith in the 4-4-2 formation he has employed successfully since December so Jeremy Menez could find himself on the bench, with Lucas, who has recovered from an ankle problem, and Javier Pastore occupying the flanks.

"We'll have to put in two great performances, be really focused and then we can hope to qualify. It's the only way to progress beyond this round. Nothing's been decided yet. At this level of the competition, all the teams are good," Pastore told the club's official website.

"They play really good football. The match will be tough for us. We'll have to concentrate hard all the time. Barcelona exploit the slightest error to score, and it's difficult to come back into it after that. We have to stay calm when they have the ball."

L'Equipe pointed out on Monday that teams set up in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation in La Liga or the Champions League have had little joy against Barcelona this season. In nine matches using those systems, only Celtic have triumphed, while seven sides have been defeated.

In addition to the statistics, Barca's pedigree and PSG's 'nouveau-riche' status mean the visitors start as overwhelming favourites. But Ancelotti's assistant coach, Claude Makelele, told Le Parisien the Catalan club's desire to hog possession will play into PSG's hands.

"Outside of the club, people might think all the pressure is on Barcelona. I can assure you that if we get knocked out it would be a huge disappointment," said the ex-Chelsea midfielder, a Champions League winner at Real Madrid.

"I don't see why we shouldn't be optimistic. In Europe, PSG play attractive football. And above all, against teams like Barcelona, we manage to up our game. I'm confident even if we're up against one of the best teams in the world. We're used to not having the ball and playing on the counter-attack. Their game might suit us. I believe we can hurt them."

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