CARSON, Calif.-- David Beckham doesn't sound at all like a former Real Madrid player when he praises Barcelona. A genuine respect overwhelms any past animosity.
His current club, the Los Angeles Galaxy, will be facing off against Barcelona in a friendly on Saturday. Having played AC Milan just two weeks ago, Beckham told the press congregated at the Home Depot Center that it was an honor to play such storied clubs.
“I think it's great when you come up against these teams,” Beckham said. “Coming up against Barcelona -- European champions, Spanish champions, Spanish Cup champions -- it's an honor for us to play against these teams and these players. Messi is one of the best if not the best player in the world, so to come up against someone like him, our players are all looking forward to that.
“It's going to be a high level game because Barcelona want to get fit for their La Liga season. They'll be working hard, they won't take this game lightly, so it's going to be a tough game, but one that we're all looking forward and we'll all enjoy.”
It's when asked about his memories of playing the Catalan giants that the rivalry sparks a light in Beckham's eyes.
“One of the best memories is beating them,” Beckham said, reminiscing. “As a Madrid player it doesn't get any better than that, when you beat Barcelona. We beat them at the Nou Camp once, we did that for the first time in quite a few years.
“I scored one for Manchester United against Barcelona, a free kick at Old Trafford. I've not scored too many goals against them, but I've had a couple assists.”
The game may not be as big as a Barca-Madrid rivalry, but an expected 80,000 fans will watch the game at the Rose Bowl. For his part, Beckham can't wait to play in front of such a large crowd.
“I think it's incredible,” he said. “If that amount of people is going to be at the stadium it's great. They're turning out to see some of the best players in the world playing in Barcelona. Hopefully we'll have a lot of fans there as well. Overall the players are excited about that. It's going to be a good experience and a fun one.”
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com
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