AC Milan Vs. Inter, 2012 Serie A, Week 18: Surging Inter Looks to Close the Gap on AC Milan

Wesley Sneijder of FC Inter Milan and Mark Van Bommel of AC Milan on the field during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan, Italy. AC Milan face Inter Milan in the Derby della Madonnina on January 15, 2012. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Sunday night in Italy brings the Derby della Madonnina, with Milan playing "host" to rivals Inter. Will the Rossoneri maintain their place at the top of the table?

Milan derbies are always a big deal, but the first meeting between the Italian giants this season has been boosted in importance by the recent form of Internazionale. After struggling out of the gates, Inter Milan have raced up the table and sit in fifth, only 8 points off their cross town rivals and league leaders, AC Milan

Adding to the story lines is the return to fitness of midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who hasn't played since November 2nd. Sneijder is certainly excited about the match, if his Twitter account is to be believed (and why wouldn't it be!):

Inter are looking for their sixth straight victory, while Milan haven't lost a league match since October, but that doesn't mean the Rossoneri are without their issues. Despite their excellent results, goal scoring has been up and down for Milan, with Massimiliano Allegri yet to really find the right combination of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alexandre Pato and Robinho. Fortunately for Allegri, his team's defense has more than made up for any issues up front.

Milan have won the last three meetings between the clubs and Inter would of course love nothing more than continue their climb up the table by stepping right on the face (figuratively) of their biggest rivals.

Allegri should have a nearly full squad at his disposal. Antonio Cassano, Mathieu Flamini and Mario Yepes all remain out with long-term injuries and while Alberto Aquilani remains doubtful, Gennaro Gattuso could make a surprise return after missing the past fourth months with an eye injury. Meanwhile, Inter coach Claudio Ranieri has a full side as well, leading me to believe that this could be another exciting edition the Derby della Madonnina.

AC Milan vs. Inter Milan

Game Date/Time: Sunday, January 15, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local

Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan, Italy

TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA - English), FOX Deportes (USA - Spanish), Euroworld Sport (Canada), ESPN (UK)

For more on the two teams, check out The Offside Inter Milan and The Offside AC Milan.

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