David Beckham is set for his AC Milan return as Genoa come to town

AC Milan v Genoa, Serie A, January 6, 2010

AC Milan 5/8; Draw 3/1; Genoa 6/1

(posted by Tom Ratchford)

“It’s true that Milan have changed a lot, it’s true, but the basis of great clubs like Milan and like Manchester United doesn’t change. Milan remain Milan. It’s true that an important guide like Paolo Maldini is no longer here, he was a charismatic captain with a lot of personality, the best footballer of the world is missing in Ricky Kaká and also the coach has changed, but the group remains a great group, motivated and full of enthusiasm. At the start of the season the team had some problems, but it has recovered and now it’s playing very well. I’m proud to play with these great champions.” – David Beckham.

A lot can change in a year. When David Beckham joined AC Milan on loan almost 1 year ago to the day, he discovered a side that Carlo Ancellotti managed, Kaka’s skills illuminated and Paolo Maldini’s huge wealth of experience influenced. Since then, all 3 personnel have departed for Chelsea, Real Madrid and retirement respectively. Beckham has vowed to play in any position to aid the Rossoneri’s title bid and cement his place in Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad. He has fond memories of this opposition, having scored a sumptuous free-kick against Genoa last January and is eager to start his first match this term. (Beckham is 8/1 to score the first goal)

If Beckham is to realise his ambition of winning the Scudetto, then Milan will have to hit the ground running after the winter break in order to close the 8 point gap on city-rivals Inter at the top of the table. (Milan are 6/1 to win the Scudetto)

Having gone 10 games unbeaten, including winning the previous 5 in a row, Milan slipped up in a 2-0 home defeat to Palermo last time out. For all the furore surrounding the possible start of David Beckham, it is Pato’s impending return to the starting line-up which will be most influential. Leonardo’s decision to rest Pato revealed Milan’s reliance upon him and he will be looking to add to his 7 goals this season against Genoa. (Pato is 11/10 to score anytime)

Despite wining 5 out of 8 home games, Milan have only managed to notch 12 goals in that period. Danielle Boriello will be looking to contribute more to the Milan attack. He enjoyed his most successful season in Serie A with Genoa in 07/08, scoring 19 league goals and will attempt to add to his far less impressive tally for Milan this season. (Boriello is 11/10 to score anytime) Having rediscovered something close to his best form, Ronaldinho will hope to continue the renaissance that he experienced in the first half of the season. (Ronaldinho is 5/1 to score first)

Whilst still without a host of defenders including Onyewu, Bonera and Oddo, Milan are at least bolstered defensively by the return from injury of Thiago Silva. (Milan are 21/20 to keep a clean sheet)

Genoa started the season off promisingly and lingered around the summit for several weeks, since then injuries and poor away form have seen them slide down into mid-table. Genoa have picked up only 7 points from a possible 24 away from home and they will be looking to avoid a repeat of their last visit to the San Siro which saw them battered 5-0 by Inter Milan. (AC Milan are 50/1 to win 5-0)

Hernan Crespo will return to one of his former clubs looking to make an impact. He had scored 4 in 5 league starts this season and will continue to burden the responsibility for goals in the continued absence of fellow front man Rafaelle Palladino. (Crespo is 15/2 to score the first goal)

Palacio and Sculli are likely to be the ones chosen to support Crespo up top and will need to try and improve Grifone’s away goals tally that sees them average only a goal a game on their travels (It is 4/5 that both teams will score)

Bosko Jankovic, Houssine Kharja, Luciano Figueroa, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Raffaele Palladino and Emiliano Moretti all are injured and thus would not be available for the trip to Milan. Salvatore Bocchetti is suspended and Marco Rossi is doubtful.

With the home defeat to Palermo still fresh in the memory, Milan will be fully aware that they cannot afford any more slip-ups, especially on home soil. The arrival of Beckham and crucially Pato’s return to the starting eleven should give the Rossoneri a timely boost. With a lengthy injury list and poor away form, Genoa are unlikely to provide much resistance.

101predicts: AC Milan 2 Genoa 0 (8/1)

AC Milan 5/8; Draw 3/1; Genoa 6/1

Full match odds here.