MILAN, Dec 20 (Reuters) - AC Milan will be pleased they are the 'away' side for Sunday's city derby with Serie A leaders Inter having failed to win at home in the league this season.
Although Milan lifted the Club World Cup last weekend and saw their top player Kaka named FIFA world player of the year on Monday, their Serie A form has been dire with five draws and two defeats at the San Siro this term, leaving them in 11th place.
Carlo Ancelotti's side, who share the stadium with Inter, now have the chance to end their home hoodoo as the visiting team, especially with champions Inter suffering an injury crisis.
Midfielders Dejan Stankovic and Luis Jimenez are doubts with Patrick Vieira, Luis Figo and Olivier Dacourt definitely out.
Roberto Mancini's problems in the middle of the park have not stopped his team going unbeaten this term however, and they lead second-placed AS Roma by seven points after just 16 games.
The lack of midfielders forced Mancini to play a three-pronged strike force of Julio Cruz, Hernan Crespo and David Suazo in Sunday's 2-0 win at Cagliari and he may have to try a similar system against Milan but with different personnel.
Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, suspended for the Cagliari game, was rested for Wednesday's 4-1 win over Reggina in the Italian Cup last 16 first leg but will definitely start on Sunday (1400) given his excellent form this term.
'Sunday's clash with Milan is a very important match between two great teams with excellent players. It will definitely be a wonderful match. It's certainly a bit different to the other games,' Mancini told reporters.
Milan came through the Club World Cup in Japan largely unscathed although striker Ronaldo will be unavailable to face his former club because of a nagging fitness problems which have restricted him to just one game this season.
Security will be tight given minor trouble at Milan derbies in recent years.
Roma host Sampdoria on Saturday (1930) with Samp striker Antonio Cassano banned from facing his old club after picking up a booking in last weekend's 2-2 draw with Fiorentina.
Francesco Totti is a doubt after his foot problem reappeared and forced him to miss Roma's lacklustre 0-0 draw at Torino on Sunday.
Juventus, a point behind Roma in third, host strugglers Siena on Sunday with fourth-placed Udinese entertaining third-bottom Empoli.