Joey Barton undaunted by Paris clash with David Beckham

Joey Barton insists he will not be running scared of David Beckham when title hopefuls Marseille play Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain on Sunday. Should Beckham make his debut for the Parisians in the league fixture at the Parc des Princes, one-cap England midfielder Barton will come up against a player who made 115 
appearances for his country.

Former England captain Beckham has joined PSG on a short-term deal until the end of the season and Barton is relishing the chance to face the 37-year-old, confident his threat can be contained.

Barton said at a press conference yesterday, according to Marseille’s website: “Paris have a lot of big names and big players. Beckham is a big star off the pitch but on the pitch it’s not a big worry. He causes a lot less fear compared to when he played in the Premier League. It would be naive to concentrate on David Beckham.”

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Barton, 30, has settled into the French game after a turbulent career in England and third-placed Marseille are five points behind this weekend’s opponents in the league table.

The significance of the fixture is not lost on Barton, but less so because of its traditional status as the most fiercely contested match in France, and more because of its implications in points terms.

Barton said: “I’ve experienced Manchester City–Manchester United, Sunderland–Newcastle and QPR–Chelsea. The electric 
atmosphere doesn’t worry me.

“The season has already given a lot of surprises and twists. And we’re not the types to give up. Nor are [second-placed] Lyon. We remain motivated and concentrated even if we haven’t been very strong in recent matches. This week could change our season.”

PSG and Marseille meet again in the Coupe de France quarter-finals on Wednesday week, 27 February.