24 down 19 to go - After beating AC Milan at San Siro, can Juventus now go the season unbeaten?

After a couple of years of mediocrity, the Bianconeri are in with a chance of going through an entire campaign without losing a game in either the league or the cup
By Mark Doyle

Ever since taking charge of Juventus as coach last summer, Antonio Conte has been trying in vain to play down his side's prospects of winning the Serie A title. So, the former Bianconeri midfielder will be feeling more than a tad bewildered this morning by giddy talk of his troops going through the entire campaign undefeated.

However, with Juve having extended their unbeaten run in all competitions this term to 24 games with a 2-1 victory over AC Milan in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie at San Siro on Wednesday night, the Bianconeri boss is just going to have to deal with it - for a few more days at the very least.

Perugia (1978-79) and Milan (1991-92) are the only two previous sides to have ended a Serie A campaign unbeaten, but both sides tasted defeat in cup competitions, meaning Juventus are currently in a position to do something that no Italian team has done before.

So, can they do it? Well, a perusal of the Bianconeri's fixture list would suggest that it is by no means inconceivable.

The league leaders have already played five of the six sides immediately below them in the table away from home. In addition, Juve are now done with third-placed Udinese, having picked up four points from their two league meetings with the Friuli outfit.

As for the one major side that Juve have yet to meet on their travels, it's Milan, which, of course, is hugely significant.

24 Down
19 To Go
Opponent Venue Competition Score     
Opponent Venue Competition Date
 Parma  Home  Serie A
 4-1  Bologna  Away  Serie A  12/02
 Siena  Away  Serie A
 1-0  Parma  Away  Serie A  15/02
 Bologna  Home  Serie A
 1-1  Catania  Home  Serie A  18/02
 Catania  Away  Serie A
 1-1  AC Milan
 Away  Serie A  25/02
 AC Milan
 Home  Serie A  2-0  Chievo  Home  Serie A  03/03
 Chievo  Away  Serie A  0-0  Genoa  Away  Serie A  11/03
 Genoa  Home  Serie A  2-2  Fiorentina  Away  Serie A  18/03
 Fiorentina  Home  Serie A  2-1  AC Milan
 Home  Coppa Italia
 Inter  Away  Serie A  2-1  Inter  Home  Serie A  25/03
 Palermo  Home  Serie A  3-0  Napoli  Home  Serie A  01/04
 Lazio  Away  Serie A  1-0  Palermo  Away  Serie A  07/04
 Napoli  Away  Serie A  3-3  Lazio  Home  Serie A  11/04
 Cesena  Home  Serie A  2-0  Cesena  Away  Serie A  15/04
 Bologna  Home  Coppa Italia
 2-1  Roma  Home  Serie A  22/04
 Roma  Away  Serie A  1-1  Novara  Away  Serie A  29/04
 Novara  Home  Serie A  2-0  Lecce  Home  Serie A
 Udinese  Away  Serie A  0-0  Cagliari  Away  Serie A  06/05
 Lecce  Away  Serie A  1-0  Atalanta  Home  Serie A
 Cagliari  Home  Serie A  1-1  ?  Rome  Coppa Italia
 Atalanta  Away  Serie A  2-0        
 Roma  Home  Coppa Italia
 Udinese  Home  Serie A  2-1        
 Siena  Home  Serie A  0-0        
 AC Milan  Away  Coppa Italia  2-1        

However, will Conte's men really be that scared of taking the Rossoneri on in their own backyard on February 25 given that they have now beaten the reigning Italian champions twice this season, comprehensively at Juventus Stadium early in the campaign, and now at San Siro in the Coppa Italia?

There is also the fact Milan will be without talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for that crunch clash at the Giuseppe Meazza, with the Sweden international having been hit with a three-game ban for slapping Salvatore Aronica during last weekend's 0-0 draw with Napoli.

Looking elsewhere, Juve have on paper tricky trips to Liguria and Tuscany lined up for next month. Genoa, with Rodrigo Palacio currently in sensational form alongside new arrival Alberto Gilardino, could definitely prove a difficult obstacle to overcome at the Luigi Ferraris, while Fiorentina never want for motivation when it comes to tackling the Bianconeri.

The April meeting with Palermo in Sicily could also prove problematic but, on the face of it, Juve's schedule for the remainder of the season is not that daunting. Of course, a potential Coppa Italia final showdown with the always dangerous Napoli may need to be factored into the equation, but it is clear that the Bianconeri are in a strong position to make history this season.

 Instant Impact | Conte has reinvigorated Juve since taking over last summer

It would be remiss of us not to issue a word of warning, though. Firstly, during a 20-day spell between the tail end of March and the start of April, Juventus must first face Milan in the Coppa Italia again before tackling Inter, Napoli, Palermo and Lazio in the league. That is a run of games which will most likely make or break their season.

Secondly, it is worth noting that the aforementioned Perugia did not lose a single game in Serie A during the 1978-79 season but still failed to land the Scudetto. The Umbrians finished second to Milan on account of the fact that they had drawn a staggering 19 games over the course of the campaign. That stat is of particular relevance to Juve given that they have drawn nine of their 21 league games to date.

Still, with spring now upon us - though the current cold snap would suggest otherwise - the Bianconeri are still in contention to win the Scudetto and go through the entire season undefeated.

Achieving both feats would be nice but, for Conte and his players, only one is worth focusing on.