Beckham and Toni eye openers in Italy

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> High-profile new arrivals David Beckham and Luca Toni will be aiming to be in the thick of the action for AC Milan and AS Roma respectively when the Italian lea

Updated: January 05, 2010 16:48 IST
  • Total Shares


High-profile new arrivals David Beckham and Luca Toni will be aiming to be in the thick of the action for AC Milan and AS Roma respectively when the Italian league restarts after the winter break on Wednesday.

England midfielder Beckham is expected to start on the bench and come on at some point for second-placed Milan in their home game against Genoa after returning to the club on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy following a successful stint at the San Siro last season.

Beckham is in Italy until the end of the campaign to get the top level football needed to push for a place in Fabio Capello's England World Cup squad.

Since he left last year, Milan have changed coach and system of play, and some pundits are unsure how he will fit into new boss Leonardo's 4-2-1-3 formation.

There has even been speculation he could be used at full-back with Massimo Oddo out through injury, a prospect that does not scare the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man.

"The system has changed. It will take some time to understand this new system, but not much," he told a press conference last week.

"I'd be happy to play in any role, even in goal. I'm a versatile midfielder and this will help me in any position."

The 34-year-old will have been boosted by the praise of Milan's medical staff for his fitness after concerns that he might still be hampered by the ankle problem that troubled him in the run-up to the Galaxy's defeat to Real Salt Lake in November's Major League Soccer Cup final.

Milan, who trail Inter by eight points with a game in hand after their visit to Fiorentina before the break was postponed due to snow, face opposition reinforced by David Suazo, after Genoa signed the Honduras forward on loan from Inter.

Like Beckham, Toni has returned to Serie A on loan to boost his chances of reaching the World Cup finals after falling out of favour at Bayern Munich and being left out of recent Italy squads.

But unlike the Englishman, the centre-forward is tipped to go straight into the starting lineup at Cagliari for Roma, who have climbed to fourth since Claudio Ranieri replaced Luciano Spalletti in the dugout after a bad start, with fellow 2006 World Cup-winner Francesco Totti a doubt with a knee problem.

The Rome club now want to consolidate this position and qualify for the Champions League after missing out on a place in the competition this season. Toni is confident he can contribute.

"I haven't just come here for the World Cup," he told reporters at the weekend. "I've come here to score goals and give a hand to the Roma cause."

Inter visit Chievo Verona without Samuel Eto'o after Cameroon irked coach Jose Mourinho by refusing to let the striker play the game and join their African Nations Cup squad late.

Goran Pandev looks sets to help cover the absence after media reports that the Macedonia striker had a medical with the champions on Sunday.

Free-agent Pandev liberated himself from his contract with Lazio last month after being frozen out for making a transfer request in the summer.

If the deal goes through, Mourinho may be tempted to use him immediately on the wing, as he is short of midfielders because of Dejan Stankovic's and Thiago Motta's suspensions.

Juventus boss Ciro Ferrara could face the sack if his third-placed side fall to their fourth consecutive competitive defeat at Parma ahead of next weekend's big match against Milan, amid speculation that the Turin club are lining up Russia coach Guus Hiddink as a replacement.

Ferrara's task is complicated by a long injury list and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro being suspended, but defender Giorgio Chiellini should be back from a calf strain at fifth-placed Parma.

Wednesday: Chievo v Inter Milan (1130 GMT), Atalanta v Napoli, Bari v Udinese, Cagliari v Roma, Catania v Bologna, Lazio v Livorno, Parma v Juventus, Sampdoria v Palermo, Sienna v Fiorentina (all 1600 GMT), AC Milan v Genoa (1945 GMT)

For the latest Sports news , like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

  • Football
  • Bayern München

Leave a comment