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Serie A: Chievo hoping to trip up Juventus

MILAN, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Chievo Verona will have to break their duck against Juventus on Wednesday if they want to slow the champions' race towards a record 29th Italian title.

In their four seasons in the top flight, Chievo have lost every game with Juventus at their Bentegodi stadium. However, Giuseppe Pillon's side have a reputation for humbling big-name opponents.

Chievo claimed the scalp of AC Milan in December and, since arriving in Serie A after their climb from the amateur leagues, they have frequently been able to produce surprise results.

Juve, though, show no signs of letting slip their 10-point lead over second-placed Inter Milan and, while attention has often been on their strikers, midfielder Emerson believes their success stems from a solid defence.

'One of the most positive things about our season so far is the fact that we have conceded only 10 goals in 19 games,' the Brazilian told Italian television.

'We need to keep that habit of not conceding many goals because with the quality we have up front we are always going to find the target ourselves,' he said.

Third-placed Milan's defeat to AS Roma on Sunday left many observers declaring the title race over, but Emerson says Capello has been able to keep the squad focused.

'I think the mental aspect counts for a lot because everyone is saying the championship is already over but the gaffer knows very well that is not the case.

'He is working hard on our mental approach, he is putting in a lot of psychological work,' said the Brazilian.


Chievo, who lost 2-1 to Fiorentina on Sunday, will be without key defender Lorenzo D'Anna and experienced striker Federico Cossato on Wednesday.

Inter travel to second-from-bottom Treviso without striker Obafemi Martins, who is on international duty with Nigeria in the African Nations Cup.

In his absence, Argentine forward Julio Ricardo Cruz is expected to partner Brazilian Adriano in attack. Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic will serve the first of a two-match ban, handing a chance to Argentine Santiago Solari on the left of midfield.

Milan are now 12 points behind Juventus and already talking of concentrating on the Champions League but they badly need to make sure of three points against Ascoli at the San Siro.

Fiorentina's win over Chievo maintained their fourth place and keeps them on track in the race for the Champions League qualifying places but they face a tricky test away to eighth-placed Sampdoria.

Livorno, five points behind their fellow Tuscans, are away to Lecce.