Juventus can stretch their unbeaten record in Serie A to 50 in Saturday’s top-of-the-table match with Inter Milan who cannot afford to lose, even this early in the season, if they want to keep the champions in sight.
Juventus have taken 28 points from a possible 30 but second-placed Inter, four points behind, have won their last nine games in all competitions. The match has the makings of a classic.
“We’ll go there as a team on the up and will look to play our own game,” said Inter defender Javier Zanetti.
“We know we’re playing a great team – let’s hope it’s a good game of football.”
Inter’s confidence was boosted by their recovery to beat Sampdoria on Wednesday. Trailing 1-0 at half-time, they scored three goals in the second half after Andrea Costa was sent off for the visitors and finished 3-2 winners.
“Our comeback was a great sign. We conceded a goal, which can happen, but we had the strength to respond without getting impatient and we used our quality,” Zanetti said.
Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni added: “The best thing to emerge from this is that we’re improving. Tonight I saw our best performance yet in terms of the football we produced.”
It is the first game against Juventus for Stramaccioni. His predecessor Claudio Ranieri was fired in March, two days after Inter lost their last meeting with Juventus 2-0.
“When it comes to Juve on Saturday, I’m lucky because I’m relatively calm, perhaps I’m not aware of the significance of it,” Stramaccioni said.
“But I believe that whether you play a team at the top or bottom of the league, at Inter you always have to try and win.
“The only advantage Juventus have over us is their players are used to playing together. But I’d rather keep my players.”
Juventus also drew strength from their recovery skills on Wednesday after Paul Pogba grabbed an injury-time winner in a 2-1 home win over Bologna.
“Saturday’s Inter clash will be a great match,” said Fabio Quagliarella, who scored the opening goal for Juventus.
“But I don’t know whether I will play as the coach likes to rotate his strikers.
“We displayed our never-say-die attitude again (against Bologna). We believe we can do it right up until the 95th minute.”
Juventus won last season’s title without losing a match and last suffered defeat in the league against Parma in the penultimate round of the 2010/11 season.
The record unbeaten run was put together by AC Milan in the early 1990s – 58 games, started against Parma and finished by the same team.
Napoli, who dropped to third place after losing at Atalanta on Wednesday, have a chance to make up ground at home to Torino on Sunday.
AC Milan, with only three wins in 10 outings, will hope to repeat their second-half performance against Palermo, where they hauled back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2, when they host Chievo on Saturday.