Juventus broke a 62 year old club record this weekend for the most games unbeaten in Serie A, their 18th game without defeat. However, they have a long way to go yet to match some of the unbeaten records of Calcio sides of the past.
In post-war Serie A, going an entire season unbeaten is almost impossible. In fact, only two sides have done it, while a select few clubs have come very close, losing only once during the whole campaign.
The 1955-56 season was a famous one in the city of Florence, as it was the first time the city’s famous side Fiorentina won a Scudetto, and they did so by only losing a solitary game, away at mid-table Genoa on the last game of the season, ending an excellent 33 game unbeaten run. Incredibly, the next side to lose only one game in an entire season was Fiorentina again in the 1968-69 season. Finishing four points ahead of Gigi Riva’s famous Cagliari side, la Viola lost their only game of the season at home to Bologna in only their fifth game, meaning that in a league of 16 teams, the Tuscans went 25 games unbeaten as they claimed their 2nd Scudetto badge.
Torino also managed to go a whole season losing only one game, but could still only finish 2nd behind rivals Juventus in the 1976-77 race, losing to Roma in February that ultimately cost them a second post-Superga triumph. It was Juventus themselves who only lost once in their 18th Scudetto season the following year.
After all these near misses, it was an un-fancied underdog who were the first Italian side to go an entire Serie A campaign unbeaten, and incredibly they still didn’t win the title.
The Perugia side of 1978-79 came unbelievably close to winning what would have been arguably the biggest Scudetto shock in history. Going the entire season unbeaten, it was the defensive efforts of Frosio and Della Martira that propelled I Grifoni to the brink of the championship, conceding a miserly 16 goals all season. Ultimately, it was draws that cost the Umbrians an unlikely title, as they only won 11 games, drawing a massive 19 games to finish four points adrift of legendary coach Nils Liedholm and his Milan side. Never again would Perugia grace such heights, while only one more side since has gone the season without defeat.
Fabio Capello’s stock may have fallen on these shores since taking the England job, but once he was the coach of one of the greatest sides the world has ever seen. Milan won the 1991-92 title comprehensively, finishing eight points clear of Juventus and becoming only the 2nd side to go the entire Serie A season unbeaten, also setting an Italian record for most consecutive games without defeat, a run of 58 games that stretched from 26th May 1991 against Parma (0-0) and coincidently was ended by Parma on the 21st March 1993.
In more recent years, going unbeaten or even losing just once has been managed only by Inter in 2006-07 in a Calciopoli ravaged Serie A, with Roma the only side to take maximum points from Roberto Mancini’s Nerazzurri. The same Inter also came closest to breaking Milan’s unbeaten record, but still fell 25 games short, remaining unbeaten in 33 games between May 2006 and April 2007.
Should Antonio Conte be looking through the history books, he will be both in awe and inspired by the great sides of Serie A days gone by. His Juventus side deservedly lead at the almost half-way point this season and have rarely looked like losing. The closest they came was being 3-1 down at Napoli but even then la Vecchia Signora clawed it back to 3-3, showing determination that’s long been missing for the Bianconeri. The tactician has constantly preached that his side are taking it one game at a time, so whilst the aim remains to win the Scudetto by any means necessary, now a 62 year old weight has been lifted, the most decorated side in Calcio will be hoping to extend that unbeaten record for a little while yet.