The much anticipated Derby D' Italia between rivals Juventus and Inter Milan is finally here.
Though their relentless run of eight straight Serie A victories surprisingly came to an end at the hands of mid-table Sampdoria at the start of the year, as they prepare for one of the grandest dates in the Calcio calendar, Inter remain on a streak of five consecutive home league wins.
After only one point from their last two games, the Nerazzurri not only need a win to claim supremacy over old foes Juventus - distancing the fast-closing Bianconeri in the process - they must also keep pace with league-leading city rivals AC Milan.
Juventus are the only team against which Conte has always lost as a manager in Serie A - with three defeats from three to date. On Sunday, he shares the touchline with old ally Andrea Pirlo for the first time - a man who helped Conte lift Juve from mediocrity, putting them on the road to their current run of nine consecutive Scudetto's.
A potentially season-defining start to 2021 has seen Juventus scheduled to meet both Milan clubs - and Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana - within the space of a few days, as Pirlo's debut campaign in the dugout appears to be rounding into form .
The Bianconeri have put together four consecutive victories since the turn of the year in league and cup - including over Milan - and built up to the clash against Inter with success over Sassuolo last week, plus qualification for the Coppa Italia quarters by beating Genoa on Wednesday.
Juventus are unbeaten in Serie A meetings with Inter since the start of 2017, in a run of five wins and two draws, and have not lost in nine of the last 10 away league games against their Derby d'Italia opponents. Remarkably, the Old Lady's only loss in this period came in September 2016 - a 2-1 defeat to an Inter .
A very unfamiliar-looking lineup took to the field against Genoa in midweek, as COVID-19 began to bite and Pirlo also rested key players, but Juve will be much closer to full strength for their 90 minutes at centre stage on Sunday - as the eyes of the global game turn towards San Siro.
The showdown at the San Siro has a feeling, of the Master vs the student, with Antonio Conte going toe to toe, with the maestro Andrea Pirlo.
Inter's defensive wekness could prove their undoing again, as Juventus have resembled a more coherent attacking unit of late and still have the big-game experience to win and close within a point of their counterparts.