Philadelphia, PA – Juventus could finish unbeaten in Serie A, but there is no guarantee that will result in a title. It is tough scenario to comprehend, but it has happened before, and Juventus has made it impossible to rule out this season.
Flash back over three decades ago and the precedent was set in Italy. Perugia - now multiple levels from the top tier of Italian soccer in Serie D - did not lose a single match in the 1978-79 Serie A season.
That season, 11 wins and 19 ties were not enough for Perugia to secure a title. Three-loss AC Milan used 17 wins and 10 ties to win the crown by three points.
Flash forward and Juve is in the exact same position. Only it has time, both to lose and to reach the summit. Unbeaten after 23 games, 13 wins and 10 ties, Juventus sits behind the same side that spoiled Perugia's near-perfect season.
AC Milan completed the double, winning Serie A in 1991-92 without a loss. Now, it is in position to make sure Juventus does not continue its trek into March.
Revived with former Milan star Andrea Pirlo orchestrating from midfield, Juve has dusted itself off from a decade tarnished by match-fixing, stripped titles and forced relegation to Serie B.
With a league-record 27 Serie A titles in tow, Juventus takes its season-long undefeated streak to the San Siro on Saturday to face AC Milan. Although every remaining Serie A game should be considered a hurdle, none is higher than this weekend's.
AC Milan has four losses, but with 15 wins and five draws, it has accumulated one more point than Juve this season despite a defeat at Juve earlier this season. AC Milan has just one home defeat, to rival Inter Milan - which also calls the San Siro home - in January.
Obviously, Juve has not lost on the road.
Something has to give, right? Well, not necessarily. Juve may not lose, but it does not win all the time, either. That's a snapshot of Juventus' season. And, while it's too early to rule anything out, it leaves Juve in danger of joining a list no team really wants to be on.
Outside of Serie A, Portugal's Benfica was undefeated in 1977-78 and failed to win the Primeira Liga title, another example of a squad over the last four decades that turned near perfection into a trivia question.
Since, in addition to Milan, England's Arsenal - The Invincibles - in 2003-04, and Portugal's FC Porto just last season, also have finished undefeated in one of Europe's top leagues and won the title. Milan won its title by eight points over Juve, the closest finish of any of those three.
Juve hopes to join the second list, but its inability to win matches has put a big question mark on which direction it might go this season. Even with a game in hand, a tie at AC Milan will leave the Old Lady in second place for another week. Then, 14 more Serie A games would stand between Juve and perfection - or possibly imperfection.
Will history repeat itself? If Juve escapes the San Siro without a loss, it sure would be fun to follow as the season rolls on.