Former England captain David Beckham is set to make his Italian league debut for AC Milan in tomorrow’s match at AS Roma following a midweek friendly and weeks of anticipation as teams return from the winter break.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder, due to return to parent club Los Angeles Galaxy in March following a short-term deal in Italy, played the first 45 minutes in a friendly against Hamburg in Dubai on Tuesday.
Although pre-match hype has surrounded Beckham, a victory for AC Milan has been billed as a springboard toward challenging for the title, while a Roma win would help them dream of Champions League qualification after a dreadful start to the season.
Milan beat Udinese 5-1 in their last match before Christmas with Beckham watching from the sidelines and they will want to wipe away the memory of defeats to arch rivals Juventus and Palermo and look to make up the nine-point deficit behind leaders and arch rivals Inter. Roma, who play at Arsenal next month as the Champions League knockout stage starts, are way back in 11th spot and Luciano Spalletti’s men have work to do to reach the fourth spot necessary to qualify for next year’s event.
Juventus, six points behind Inter in second spot, tomorrow host lowly Siena, who caused a shock by beating the Turin giants earlier this year. Jose Mourinho’s Inter may be many people’s tip for the title, but Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus are considered strong contenders following their recent good league form after an uninspiring start. Cristiano Zanetti, Claudio Marchisio and David Trezeguet all look available for selection after being injured.
As for Inter, demanding coach Mourinho has urged his team not to show overconfidence at home to Cagliari in today’s late game.
“In 2009 we need to improve everything, psychologically and tactically,” Mourinho said. “We are halfway through a season which could be positive, negative or exceptional.”
Patrick Vieira will not appear for Inter and nor will the suspended Douglas Maicon, though Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be playing. Cagliari meanwhile have defensive problems because of the absence of Paolo Bianco and Diego Lopez.