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One of the most important matches of the season -- if not the most important one -- comes our way at the famed San Siro as Inter Milan host AC Milan in a showdown between first- and third-placed teams in Serie A. The two sides played to a 1-1 draw in their previous meeting last November with Hakan Calhanoglu scoring the opening goal against his former club. Inter are currently first in Serie A with 53 points through 22 matches while AC Milan are third in Serie A with 49 points through 23 matches (+22 GD), tied on points with second-place Napoli.

There's a lot on the line for Stefano Pioli's Rossoneri because if they come up short and lose the Milan derby, they would effectively be kissing goodbye to any hopes of winning the scudetto, especially with an extra game played compared to Simone Inzaghi's side. A win for Pioli completely changes the complexion of the title race heading into the final months. 

Here's what you need to know: 

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Feb. 5 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: San Siro -- Milan, Italy
TV and live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Inter Milan -125; Draw +280; AC Milan +330 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Storylines

Inter Milan: Inzaghi can count on some crucial players back from the International break such as the Argentine Lautaro Martinez and the Chilean Alexis Sanchez, which is a much-needed boost for a team looking to win the derby and set a statement in the title race. Joaquin Correa and new signing Robin Gosens are not expected in this game due to injuries and Inzaghi is expected to start with the usual starting XI, featuring former AC Milan man Hakan Calhanoglu who scored and celebrated in front of his old fans in the last derby. Inter's last Serie A home defeat came in October 2020 against AC Milan -- they're unbeaten in 28 home games since.

AC Milan: After failing to land a center back in the January mercato, Pioli comes into the derby with more concerns as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic are sidelined. On the other hand, Fikayo Tomori returned to training this week and could have a role off the bench. This is a pivotal game for a team in desperate need to win three points over the league leaders, especially given that Inzaghi's team has one game in hand. A loss for the Rossoneri would be catastrophic.

Prediction

Inter Milan are currently leading the league and AC Milan need to win to improve their chances to win the title. However, Pioli's side has some crucial absences such as Ibrahimovic and Rebic that could be part of the difference. PICK: Inter Milan 2, AC Milan 1