Brazil has a number of fiercely contested local derbies, with the majority of the country's most recognisable and successful clubs divided among just four cities.
Corinthians v Palmeiras. A massive clássico this weekend in the Campeonato Paulista— Robbie Blakeley (@rio_robbie) February 14, 2014
The first clash between the two occurred in 1917, when Palmeiras were still known by their former name of Palestra Italia—an indication of the community of largely Italian immigrants who composed the club's original fanbase.
The tie has produced memorable encounters down the years, some for the quality of football and others for the incidents of fighting that have broken out between the two sides. When the giants meet, passions run high among both players and fans.
The current situation
The latest clash between the pair comes on Sunday in the 2014 Campeonato Paulista, or Sao Paulo state championship. The "estaduais," as they are known, are an important part of the Brazilian calendar, although opposition to their existence is growing.
After a couple of years of relative turmoil on and off the pitch, it is visitors Palmeiras who incredibly enter the clash as the more stable outfit. Things are not running smoothly across the city for O Timao, champions of the Club World Cup little over a year ago.
You may have read recently about the Common Sense FC, or Bom Senso FC, scheme that Brazil's footballers have combined to form, as documented in the Guardian by former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva.
Brazil's players are unhappy with many of the conditions they encounter, including frequent delays in payment of wages and the current calendar. However, the recent invasion of Corinthians' training ground by angry supporters, as reported by ESPN, has also been a major reality check for those who perhaps felt little sympathy for the players' cause.
Since that incident less than two weeks ago, several players have left Corinthians including one-time golden boy of Brazilian football Alexandre Pato and ex-Porto midfielder Ibson.
Paulo André becomes third player to leave Corinthians in the wake of the training ground invasion on 1 February. Off to Shangai Shenhua.— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) February 12, 2014
More notable, though, is the departure of captain Paulo Andre. The centre-back was not only the club's captain but also leader of the Bom Senso movement. He has left for China, citing the fans' aggression and his family's suffering as his reason for moving, per UOL (Portuguese).
Interestingly, in relation to the weekend's game, his successor as leader of the movement will be Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass.
What sparked the fan troubles? Corinthians' poor form in the state championship which is set to lead to a first-round exit isn't helping. It is a sad situation and the players will hope for a much-needed derby success in part to ease tensions.
Off the pitch, times are difficult for Brazilian football players. On the pitch, they are more united than ever.
Fagner vs. Juninho
Two of the standout full-backs of the 2012 Brasileirao season, both have had ups and downs since but will do battle down the flanks on this occasion.
Fagner is, perhaps, the best right-back currently in Brazil and will be expected to provide a threat from his deep position. He will, though, face one of the better opponents he will encounter in the state championships.
Attacking full-backs are an important part of the composition of most Brazilian sides, and it is on the flanks that games can be won or lost.
Felipe vs. Leandro
Paulo Andre's exit has brought benefit for one Corinthians player in the shape of replacement Felipe, who will partner the excellent Gil at centre-back.
He will be tested on this occasion by one of the younger strike partnerships at a top Brazilian club in target man Alan Kardec and the lively Leandro.
Leandro, who was briefly compared to Neymar when he first broke through at Gremio in 2011, has managed to get his career back on track over the past year and will need careful monitoring throughout the encounter.
Jadson vs. Bruno Cesar
Neither player is even guaranteed to play in the encounter, but could it be that it is a new signing that swings the tie in the favour of their respective sides?
Jadson, who arrived from Sao Paulo as part of the trade for Pato, is an experienced international who spent several years with Shakhtar Donetsk. With an eye for a through ball and excellent technique, he will add much attacking quality to the Corinthians side.
Bruno Cesar, meanwhile, is a former Corinthians player who has recently returned from a spell in the Middle East. Another high-level attacking midfielder for domestic football in Brazil, he has a knack for scoring goals and could be a useful option off the bench.