Ancelotti may rest key players against Montpellier
PARIS (AP) -Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has a selection headache ahead of Friday's match against Montpellier with the club facing Barcelona four days later in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Ancelotti may rest key players like midfielder Blaise Matuidi and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic against defending French champion Montpellier to keep them fresh for Barcelona.
"It's true that everyone in the dressing room is talking about Barca. There is a lot of expectation surrounding this match,'' PSG midfielder Clement Chantome said. "But Montpellier comes first and our primary objective is winning the French title.''
Matuidi has been ever-present for club and country and played in World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain, while Ancelotti must decide whether to give David Beckham only his second league start since joining the club.
Beckham has resumed training after returning from his trip to China to help develop young players. Beckham did well against Saint-Etienne two weeks ago, showing he could still last the pace and proving his passion remains undiminished after getting involved in a fierce bust-up with opposition striker Brandao.
Ibrahimovic has been cleared by UEFA to face Barcelona, after its appeals panel granted a request by PSG to lift the second match of a two-game ban imposed after he was sent off against Valencia in the last 16 last month.
Ancelotti may keep him on the bench against Montpellier in order to keep him in top shape to face his former teammates on Tuesday. He benched Ibrahimovic when PSG played Bastia at home a few days before taking on Valencia, sending him on only for the last 25 minutes.
PSG leads second-place Lyon by five points with nine rounds remaining. Lyon hosts Sochaux on Sunday.
Training has been very low-key lately at PSG, with most of the squad off representing their countries.
"Seeing as we have a lot of internationals in the team, there weren't many of us at training these last few days,'' Chantome said.
PSG wasted a 2-0 lead against Saint-Etienne and drew 2-2 as it failed to win for the third straight away match, and has maintained its lead in the standings thanks mainly to its strong home form and Lyon's inability to put a consistent run together.
"We were a bit worn out. But that's normal, you always have some difficult moments to deal with in a season,'' Chantome said. "We've recovered well and the match against Montpellier is a good opportunity to bounce back. We are holding the cards and if we don't make any mistakes then we'll be champions.''
Montpellier caused one of the greatest upsets in the history of the French league when it beat PSG to the French title by three points last season - despite trailing by three points at the halfway stage. Following the loss of key players, such as striker Olivier Giroud to Arsenal, Montpellier started the season badly but has found its form again and is in seventh place.
"It promises to be a great game,'' Montpellier center half Vitorino Hilton said.
Meanwhile, third-place Marseille, which is seven points behind PSG, travels to bitter southern rival Nice, which is in fifth spot and very hard to beat at home.
In Saturday's matches, it is: Troyes vs. Saint-Etienne; Ajaccio vs. Toulouse; Bordeaux vs. Lorient; Evian vs. Reims; Rennes vs. Nancy, and Valenciennes vs. Bastia.
Brest faces Lille un Sunday's other match.