San Siro Stadium was surrounded by mist on Wednesday evening as I took my place in Row 3 with a perfect view for Serie A : AC Milan v Genoa, Italy's oldest football club in an intriguing contest. What a star studded line up for the Rosso Neri with Kaka, Pato, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Maldini, Pirlo and David Beckham in midfield.
I took the Red Line on the Metro to Lotto and then a free shuttle bus past the horse race track to the stadio. My first occasion at this giant stadium, shared by both AC Milan and league leaders Internazionale, and real name Giuseppe Meazza, was for the opening match of FIFA Italia 90, Argentina vs Cameroon, when the Africans suprised the world with a 1-0 victory. There is talk of maybe Inter getting their own stadium in the next few years. Most Italian stadiums are owned not by the clubs but by the cities so the revenue is shared, unlike say Old Trafford and The Emirates, and the offices and staff elsewhere.
For AC Milan, they will stick there, since their fans love the tradition of the place. It was not a great match, though I enjoyed it and the 33rd minute free kick goal from No 32 David Beckham was a delight. This is where he should be, soccer, or calcio wise, rather than in Orange County. The players obviously enjoy his company and his work rate. He was all over the place and once came back to clear from inside the penalty area after a tremendous run back to help the defence. His goal was treated by raptuos applause by the fans, and it's a pity that he had to be substituted in the 71st minute after asking to come off with a nagging injury. Two goals in his four matches and he seems part of the scenery.
This will save his career and he must have impressed England coach Fabio Cappello who was watching with his wife. Becks hopes to get selected and play in the England friendly in Spain in a couple of weeks and equal Bobby Moore's record number of 108 'caps' for a field player
I was privileged to have a VIP ticket and wrist band with tremendous food, wines, and even Sicilian fresh squeezed orange juice from a machine from the Sicilan orange growers. There was also a chef churning out ham and other meats from an automatic slicer, mountains of pasta and other delights and some tiny cream and fruit tartlets. The air was quite dry and Nivea, one of the sponsors, were giving out free packs of their products, as was a chocolate sponsor.
After the match I was also given a special pass, only given to a half dozen or so, to stand outside the locker room as the players left and chat with them before they went to the press mixed zone. I spoke to a number of them including Kaka and Beckham. He looked worried about his injury which will possibly keep him out for the next match, and a big decision that has to be made about his immediate future-in Serie A or the Dog and Pony show of MLS. Saturday, January 31 is the end of the 'transfer window' but it has been revealed that he is registered with the Italian Federation(FIGC) until June, and the club is willing to pay LA Galaxy a fee to keep him.
It's quite a team when you can bring on the great Ronaldinho as a substitute. Unfortunately, with 3 minutes to go Milito spoilt the party and equalised for Genoa who are in 4th place behind the Rossoneri. Juventus lost on the same night in second place and Inter are still ahead of them with 49 points, 6 more than Juve and 8 more than AC Milan. www.lega-calcio.it