Juventus looks to extend unbeaten Serie A record
Juventus' Mirko Vucinic, right, is tackled by Chelsea's John Obi Mikel during their Champions League group E soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)
Published Monday, September 24, 2012 8:34AM EDT
MILAN, Italy -- Juventus is looking to extend its unbeaten Serie A record to 44 games against fierce foes Fiorentina on Tuesday night after a perfect weekend for the defending champion.
Not only did it manage a 2-0 win over Chievo Verona, but it saw its closest rivals in the standings all drop points to leave it as the only team still with a perfect record.
"We are proud of what we have done, but the season is still very long and it's dangerous to make predictions," Juve chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said.
Topping off a positive week for Juventus was also the fact that its traditional rivals, AC Milan and Inter Milan, lost again.
Milan in particular will be desperate for a victory, at home to Cagliari, after a woeful start which has seen it win just once and lose three times in the league, leaving coach Massimiliano Allegri clinging to his position.
Fabio Quagliarella was again the hero for Juventus, with two stunning goals on the heels of a last-minute equalizer against Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.
"It's a good satisfaction, after a long dark period where it seemed as if the tunnel would never finish, from the injury to everything else," Quagliarella said. "But I always say that with work and patience, if you believe in your own talent, at the end things come back, there's no doubt about it.
"I wasn't a washout before and I'm not a phenomenon now, I'm a player who when he's called upon is almost always there. I know my talents well, I know my head well, so when I go onto the pitch I know perfectly what I have to do."
Fiorentina and Juventus have a fierce rivalry which has spanned many decades, and games between the two are almost always heated battles.
"I'm going into this game as I do all of the others, but all of the Viola fans who I meet tell me this isn't just another game and I know it," Fiorentina goalkeeper and longtime fan Emiliano Viviano said. "On my way to training I met two fans, they were about 70, and they urged me to beat Juventus. If we do then I'll take all of the squad out for dinner and I'll pay the bill.
"It won't be easy. We'll have to keep up with their rhythm and score a goal. We'll give it a go, even if we are up against the best team in the division."
Meanwhile, Milan entertains Cagliari with Allegri badly needing a victory. Despite reassurances from the club that his job is not in danger, another defeat will surely leave him teetering on the brink.
Cristian Zapata and Kevin-Prince Boateng will miss the match after both were sent off in Sunday's defeat at Udinese. But the attack could be boosted by the return of Robinho from injury.
The Rossoneri will be looking to exorcise the curse of the new San Siro pitch, as neither Milan team has won at home all season.
Inter, which lost there to last-place Siena at the weekend, travels to Chievo.
Second-place Napoli is two points behind Juventus and will be looking to cement its challenge against fellow pursuer Lazio.
Both teams had perfect records until Napoli was held to a goalless draw at Catania -- despite playing with an extra man for 88 minutes -- while Lazio lost at home to Genoa.
"It will be a party of football against Napoli," Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "We'll try to do well at the San Paolo and, obviously, we'll do our utmost to ensure it's us celebrating at the end of the game."
Sampdoria also lost its perfect record at the weekend. It visits Roma.
Elsewhere, on Wednesday it's: Pescara vs. Palermo; Catania vs. Atalanta; Genoa vs. Parma; and Torino vs. Udinese. On Thursday, Siena hosts Bologna.