Rivals

Saturday's Derby della Madonnina is the biggest in years

Jude Summerfield
Inter and AC Milan face off on Saturday
Inter and AC Milan face off on Saturday / Getty Images
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There aren't many bigger football rivalries for neutrals and romantics than the Derby della Madonnina, and it's coming round again on Saturday.

Current Serie A leaders and title holders Inter and San Siro rivals AC Milan are separated by just four points, and there are glorious matchups to look forward to all over the place.

The strike forces of Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud going head-to-head, midfield monsters Marcelo Brozovic and Franck Kessie tussling it out, and wing-backs Theo Hernandez and Denzel Dumfries rampaging up the down the flanks.

That's not forgetting the battle between two of Italy's brightest midfield prodigies in Nicolo Barella and Sandro Tonali.

But what makes this derby so historically special is that these battles have been fought for decades by players who are certified legends of the game.

Ronaldo. Javier Zanetti. Walter Zenga. Alessandro Nesta. Paolo Maldini. Julio Cesar. The list is quite frankly endless.

It's a rivalry which dates all the way back to 1909, when Milan beat Inter 3-2 in their first ever meeting. Inter have won most of the official meetings since then, though neither side has ever been that far away from a victory.

They've both enjoyed their glory years. Inter picked up two European Cups back to back in 1964 and 1965 before winning the Champions League in 2010, picking up 19 Serie A titles along the way. Milan had always been major players in Europe up until the 2010s, winning seven European Cups and Champions Leagues alongside their 18 league championships.

One is dominant domestically, the other has bragging rights in Europe. It's a rivalry that's as tight as any honours wise throughout the world, and that's what makes it such an exciting matchup.

The 2010s weren't so kind to either of the Milan giants, however. Both sides dropped out of regular Champions League contention and only managed two Serie A titles between them.

However, things are starting to look up.

Inter won last season's Serie A under Antonio Conte and are in good shape to retain that title midway through the season with new boss Simone Inzaghi, while Milan look as efficient under Stefano Pioli as they have at any point in the last ten years. Throw into the mix the sudden decline of Juventus and suddenly the title race is wide open again, though Napoli will want to have a say in that this term.

Saturday's game will give each player the chance to write themselves into Italian football history. To create moments that won't ever be forgotten. To give fans precious memories of glory over their bitter rivals.

Whether it be Maicon denying Milan a second straight title in 2012, Inter fans pelting Dida with flares or their meetings in the 2004/05 Champions League quarter-finals, the Derby della Madonnina has iconic moments to trump any rivalry in world football.

On Saturday, the stage will be set once again at San Siro and there's guaranteed to be fireworks. Just hopefully not any thrown at goalkeepers.

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