After coasting through his return to Serie A against Genoa David Beckham should be in for a far bumpier ride tomorrow night when Milan face Juventus in a game that will decide who goes into the second half of the season best-placed to challenge Jose Mourinho's runaway leaders, Internazionale.
Genoa eased the former England captain back into his annual five-month San Siro shift. But praise for Beckham's performance was tempered by recognition of the opposition's weakness. Corriere della Sera said: "He was very precise as always and gave one great assist to [Marco] Borriello but as soon as he started strolling as if he was out for a walk with wife Victoria on the Montenapoleone [Milan's expensive fashion boutique boulevard] Leonardo replaced him."
Tomorrow's match will be no such stroll. Juventus are just a point behind second-placed Milan and need a win to stay in the title race and keep manager Ciro Ferrara in a job.
With Guus Hiddink waiting in the wings should the club's post-Champions League exit hangover not improve they must take three points. Milan can move four points clear with a game in hand if they win the match and Beckham (pictured) should overcome an ankle knock to play some part.
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has already hailed his return saying: "He is a great signing. He is such an intelligent player that we now have someone who could start games in up to three different positions for us."
Balotelli to appeal fine
Internazionale, who will contest a €7,000 fine imposed on Mario Balotelli for sarcastically clapping fans who had abused him throughout their midweek win over Chievo, face Siena at home tonight.
Ronaldo eyes Messi's crown
Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to win back the Fifa World Player crown he lost last year to Barcelona's Leo Messi. Ahead of tomorrow night's home game with Mallorca he said: "I didn't expect to win the Fifa World Player this year because Messi had won everything with Barcelona and had been individually playing at a very high level. But I want to be recognised as the best in the world at least two more times in my career. That is one of my big targets." The player did admit to being happy about his first half season at the club. He added: "When I arrived at Madrid people talked about the nightlife and the girls, now all they talk about is the goals."
Having won everything last year, Barcelona are yet to win this year having recorded a draw and a first-leg cup defeat so far. They travel to Tenerife without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Faubert: I was awake
It was just a year ago that Real Madrid announced one of the strangest signings in their history – the loan "capture" of West Ham wide-man Julien Faubert. The Frenchman managed just 50 minutes of first-team action in six months and is most remembered in the Spanish capital for being photographed appearing to snooze on the substitutes bench during a league game. Now playing right-back for West Ham, Faubert said: "I was given so little opportunity in the time I was there, even Zidane would have found it difficult to show what he could do. And the famous photograph was just a cheap shot. I closed my eyes for a second and a half and ended up the subject of quite a lot of mickey-taking."
Real Madrid have said they will not make any signings in the January window but Barcelona would consider taking Robinho if Manchester City allow him out on loan.
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