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Serie A Preview: Milan vs Inter

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The eternal rivals are set to renew hostilities on Sunday with major Europa League implications on the line…

Claudio Villa

Inter is heading down the homestretch with some serious momentum after extending its unbeaten run to six games following a scoreless draw against Napoli.

The Nerazzurri have lost only once in their last 14 games and another victory would pretty much seal a Europa League spot.

While the Derby della Madonnina may have lost some of its luster in recent years, it's still a hotly-contested encounter that means a great deal to the players, fans and everyone associated with the clubs.

Neither team can qualify for the Champions League, but a spot in its sister competition might prove to be a satisfying consolation prize for the fallen giants.

Inter has won four of the last five Serie A encounters against its city rivals and another triumph would likely put the final nail in the coffin in what has been a listless campaign for the Rossoneri.

Rodrigo Palacio's deft back heel gave Nerazzurri Nation an early Christmas present in the first derby of the season and now Walter Mazzarri's men hope to close out the campaign with a flourish.

You can throw the formbook out the window whenever these combatants square off and there's sure to be some fireworks in a clash that will hopefully be easier on the eye than the first meeting, but ends with the same result.

THE VITALS

Date: Sunday, May 4

Time: 2:45 EST

Venue: Giuseppe Meazza

BATTLE DOSSIER

Inter Probable Starting Formation: 3-5-2: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Samuel, Rolando; D'Ambrosio, Hernanes, Cambiasso, Kovacic, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi

Milan Probable Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1: Abbiati; Bonera, Rami, Mexes, Constant; De Jong, Montolivo; Honda, Kaka, Taarabt; Balotelli

Unavailable For Duty: Juan Jesus has a torn MCL while Jonathan is still nursing a muscle injury and will be a game-time decision.

Operation Spirito Santo: The objective is to strike a fatal blow to the Diavoli and ensure that the city is cleansed from their corrupt stench. 

Enemy Of The State: I like Mario Balotelli despite his many faults. I even bought the Little Diva an Italy jersey with his name on it (mostly to piss off my dad truth be told). But he disrespected the shirt against Barcelona in 2010 and I don't think many of us have forgotten.

Fear Factor: 6
: Milan is as scary as your spoiled, pampered sibling, whose weekly allowance has been taken away indefinitely and is now fading into relative obscurity, much to everyone's delight.

Medal Of Honor: Javier Zanetti will suit up for his final Derby della Madonnina and will likely make an appearance at some point in the second half. The Argentine legend should receive a rousing ovation even though Inter is technically the road team for this encounter. My hope, and it's a longshot, is that Zanetti goads Balotelli into a red card before setting up the winner. That would be epic.

Likely Outcome: Inter hasn't lost to Milan in Serie A since 2011 and the Nerazzurri look like a good bet to extend that streak on Sunday. The Rossoneri will be desperate and therefore dangerous, but the Beneamata will do enough to grind out another positive result.