The San Siro stages one of Serie A's most anticipated matches of the season this evening, when Milan AC and Internazionale FC meet in the 250th Milan derby.
Much at stake
This edition of arguably Europe's most glamorous city squabble holds much more at stake than mere bragging rights, with Inter fighting to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A, and Milan chasing Bologna - who they trail by three points - for fourth place and the UEFA Champions League entry it brings.
UEFA Cup success
Both clubs advanced to the last eight of the UEFA Cup in midweek, Milan overcoming Roda JC on penalties after losing 1-0 on the night in the San Siro and Inter holding AEK Athens 2-2 in Greece to secure a more comfortable 5-2 aggregate success. Missing from those matches was each side's main striker - the Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko of Milan and Inter's Italian international Christian Vieri. The fact they were rested from Thursday's UEFA Cup action indicates how seriously their respective coaches are taking tonight's big match.
Shevchenko has caused Inter major problems in past encounters, having scored no fewer than nine goals in seven matches against the Nerazzurri - including a double in their 4-2 triumph last October. That said, Vieri is on an impressive scoring run at present. After scoring twice on the opening day of the season, 'Bobo' was sidelined by injury until the end of November, but has since returned in some style, scoring 15 goals in 15 league matches.
First for Ancelotti
For some this Milan derby will offer an alternative experience. Carlo Ancelotti may have played in these fixtures as a Milan player but this will be his first experience as a coach, having replaced Faith Terim not long after Milan's win in the sides' autumn encounter. Then there are the 'exes': Andrea Pirlo and Cristian Brocchi who moved from Inter to Milan, and Andrés Guglielminpietro who travelled in the opposite direction.
Milan will be without long-term absentees Paolo Maldini, Filippo Inzaghi, and Massimo Ambrosini, as well as Thomas Helveg. Coach Ancelotti also has doubts over the availability of midfield player Demetrio Albertini, who is still recovering from heavy bruising suffered last Sunday, and Serginho (back). His counterpart, Héctor Cúper, meanwhile, cannot call on Ronaldo, Emre Belözoglu, Okan Buruk, Grigorios Georgatos or Stéphane Dalmat. There are also doubts about Francisco Farinos, who has a back problem, while defender Nelson Vivas looks to have played his last game this season due to knee-ligament damage.
The record books favour Milan, who have won 94 derbies to Inter's 86. However, of their 157 Serie A meetings Inter have won 56 and Milan 50. Whatever the outcome, this could be the last derby as Milan president for Silvio Berlusconi who, according to reports in the Italian media last week, may well relinquish his post after the Italian parliament ordered him to reconsider his various business roles citing a potential conflict of interests.
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