The Milan Derby is one of the jewels in Europe's football calendar, set to play out its latest rendition this Sunday.
For the second time this year, Inter come into the fixture as the higher-placed team in the Serie A standings, Massimiliano Allegri failing to get Milan's 2013/14 campaign off to a bright start.
As things stand, the Rossoneri sit in 11th place while Inter are looking all the more hopeful in fifth, and while these positions don't exactly echo the European giants of decades gone by, Sunday's encounter has as much on the line as ever.
Read on for a preview of the key head-to-head battles one can expect to enjoy this weekend, as well as all the viewing information to ensure you don't miss a minute.
Date: Sunday, Dec. 22
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET
Viewing Info: BT Sport 1 (UK), Sky Sport 1 (ITA)
Stream: BT Sport App (subscription required)
Fredy Guarin vs. Sulley Muntari
If recent speculation is to be believed, this weekend's could be the last Milan Derby we see Fredy Guarin play a part in, the midfielder's agent quoted by Charles Reynolds of the Independent as saying that his client is very close to a Chelsea switch.
Al Jazeera's Matteo Bonetti isn't all convinced by the 27-year-old, but believes he could reach his best at Stamford Bridge:
So, what better reason for the Colombian to sign off his San Siro account than by contributing a massive performance against Inter's biggest rivals, who have Sulley Muntari ready to stop Guarin in his tracks.
Each player is worthy of fulfilling the box-to-box responsibilities of their respective sides and have been big figures for their clubs this term.
Though Milan's season thus far may not speak highly of the Ghanaian, Muntari has actually shown some of his best form with Milan this season, and this promises to be an especially intriguing encounter of two engine room technicians.
Infostrada stats show the midfielder is hitting goal with better frequency than ever this term:
Rodrigo Palacio vs. Cristian Zapata
Rodrigo Palacio stands out as Inter's top scorer so far this season with nine Serie A goals to his name.
However, Cristian Zapata has stood out as perhaps the only consistent defensive unit in Allegri's back line (if there is one) and is likely to be tasked with restraining the Argentinian forward on Sunday.
The South American pair have clashed in the past but not while Palacio's prominence was as big as it has been under Walter Mazzarri this term, making for a higher-profile meeting this time around.
Andrea Ranocchia vs. Mario Balotelli
And at the other end of the pitch, Mario Balotelli will seek to pull Milan out of the injury nightmare they're currently having to endure, a test that one can't say is out of his reach.
Robinho, Stephan El Shaarawy and Valter Birsa are all set to miss out for the Rossoneri this week, meaning that Balotelli's input will be all the more important against his former club.
Standing in his way is Andrea Ranocchia, the 25-year-old having impressed so far this season, despite the fact that defence hasn't been Inter's strength thus far.
With a lack of first-choice provision around, it puts even more of an earnest on Super Mario to perform, but it may be asking too much of even him to pull his side out of this ditch.
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