On Sunday evening in Naples, something rare happened. Juventus lost a domestic fixture.
Antonio Conte’s side had gone 22 matches without defeat in Serie A prior to their clash with Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo and had also won their previous seven league matches.
However, Napoli have a strong home form and with a strong partisan crowd behind them, Rafael Benitez’s players took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Marek Hamsik had the ball in the net in the seventh minute, but it was disallowed for an offside offence – just moments after forcing Bianconeri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon into making a good save from close range.
Juventus, without the suspended Carlos Tevez, continued to struggle to test the Napoli defence and conceded the second goal of the evening in the 81st minute, this time Dries Mertens shooting home after latching onto Goran Pandev's lofted pass.
That victory enhanced Napoli’s chances of finishing in the top three as they are on 64 points from 31 matches, 12 points clear of fourth-placed Fiorentina.
Juve’s lead at the top of the table is now 11 points, but that will be reduced to eight by second-placed Roma if they win their game their hand.
Sunday’s result may appear to breathe some life into what has become a largely listless race for the Scudetto, but in reality it only heats up the chase for the second spot.
Conte’s Juventus have won the Italian championship for the past two seasons and are very much on course to make it three in a row.
An eight-point gap combined with the depth in squad and ability to bounce back make the Bianconeri pretty much invincible. Losing in Naples is nothing to be embarrassed about – although Conte will not be pleased with his team’s performance – and between now and the end of the season, Juve have only two matches that they could drop points in: against Udinese and Roma, both away from home.
Which means that Sunday’s loss is probably not going to affect Juventus at all. In fact, it will only make them more determined and ruthless for the remainder of the campaign.