Juve invincibles make it 46 games AC Milan's unbeaten record in sight

Juve invincibles make it 46 games AC Milan's unbeaten record in sight

Aneh Tapi Nyata Little by little they edge closer to the target. Juventus are homing in on AC Milan's unbeaten record of 58 consecutive Serie A matches: from 26 May 1991 to 21 March 1993. That was set by Fabio Capello's phenomenal Rossoneri team, the invincibles, whose run came to an end when Faustino Asprilla's brilliant 25-yard free kick gave Parma a 1-0 win at the San Siro. Conte's troops have now reached game number 46: the last match of the 2010/11 season, 38 games in 2011/12 and the first seven in the current campaign. AC Milan's record is still 12 games away – a lot, admittedly – but there are few real threats on their path. If Juve can complete the first half of the season without losing, they could set a new record against Parma in Week 20.

PITFALLS — The Bianconeri's toughest test may well be their first fixture after the international break, when Napoli visit Juventus Stadium. Walter Mazzarri's side came close to beating them last term (as well as Roma, who had a penalty five minutes from time at 1-1, but Buffon saved Totti's effort): they led 2-0 and then 3-1 at the Stadio San Paolo, but couldn't prevent the Old Lady from coming back. Mazzarri's men are the only team to have beaten Juve during Conte's stewardship: the Neapolitans' triumph in the Coppa Italia final in Rome remains the Bianconeri's only defeat in the last 54 games. This season Napoli and Juve are tied on points at the top of the standings so their meeting on Saturday 20 October is doubly significant: to take sole command of Serie A and for the unbeaten record.
NEW RECORD SET IN PARMA?— If Juve avoid defeat to Napoli, they will have to maintain their concentration in Catania (a tricky fixture, 1-1 last year) and at home to Bologna before a clash that requires no extra motivation, against Inter. After the Derby of Italy, the fixture list sends the reigning champions to Pescara before two more tough encounters against Lazio (home) and AC Milan (away). The Turin derby on 10 December is perhaps the last big hurdle to clear because the final sprint – though not to be underestimated – looks manageable: Palermo away, Atalanta at home, Cagliari away then Sampdoria at home. Ciro Ferrara's side, when they travel to Turin on 6 January, are potentially the last test before Conte equals Capello's record of 58 games. With the trip to Parma then offering him the chance to go one better. Whatever happens before then, Conte's tenure has been nothing short of remarkable. Having arrived in the summer of 2011, his team has lost just once in 54 games: 46 in Serie A, two in the Champions League, five in the Coppa Italia and one in the Italian Super Cup.
MOTIVATION — Of course Juve's quest to establish a new record should not distract them from their main goal, which is to win as many games as possible and stay top while trying to shake off their rivals. Avoiding defeat would be enough for the record but Conte wants three points from every game, and sometimes trying to achieve that means you run the risk of being caught on the counter. Juventus couldn't be any more motivated though: they have the chance to make history.

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