There are few things more impressive in sports than an unbeaten run. Every team can pull out the occasional win against a bigger team, but truly great teams can avoid defeat time and time again no matter the circumstances or who they are up against. They may have played just a few days ago, they may be missing a key player or they may be up against the best team in the league, but all these factors do not matter once the whistle is blown for these teams that have put together the greatest streaks in football history. It is rare, and impressive, for teams to maintain a high level of play over multiple games, as everyone has off nights where they struggle to play their best. In these times these teams have been able to pick up the slack and continue to go unbeaten, demonstrating the importance of playing as a team instead of relying on one or two players.
Arsenal famously went the entire 2003-04 campaign undefeated, going 49 games without a loss overall. This included 36 wins and 13 draws, and this is particularly impressive considering the competiveness of the Premier League. This team, nicknamed “The Invincibles”, made history in England, but it may surprise you to find out that this run fails to make it into the top 10 unbeaten runs in football history. Many of the unbeaten runs listed may be in leagues that are less competitive, but you cannot take away from how impressive these runs are as it takes a special team with an incredible drive and focus to stay undefeated for 50+ games.
All the best teams in the world will make their home stadium a fortress where travelling teams shrink the moment they step onto the pitch. All of these teams have achieved this, but impressively they have also visited grounds around the country and come away from the game with at least a point.
Here are the top 10 unbeaten runs in football history.
10 Benfica (56 games)
Guided by former Chelsea defender John Mortimore, Benfica went on a stunning 56 game unbeaten streak which lasted from 1976 through to 1978. It would be rival team Porto who eventually defeated Benfica, with a 1-0 victory in August of 1978. Porto have come agonizingly close to toppling this incredible unbeaten streak, with 2 streaks of 53 and one of 55 which was from February 2010 to January 2012. It seems unlikely that any Portuguese team will replicate this now, but both Benfica and Porto continue to top the league and have both performed well in Europe over the years too.
9 Skonto Riga (58 games)
8 Olympiacos (58 games)
7 A.C. Milan (58 games)
Italian giants A.C. Milan were a team to be feared throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s, earning the nickname “The Immortals” and “The Invincibles”. This highly talented team won back-to-back European titles under Arrigo Sacchi and three consecutive Italian titles, as well as a conquering 58 game unbeaten streak which lasted the 1991-92 season, under Fabio Capello. The team contained legendary players such as Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, ensuring that they were playing with style and swagger throughout this period too. They would also win the 1994 Champions League under Capello, what must now seem like an eternity ago for A.C. fans.
6 FC Pyunik (59 games)
5 Union Saint-Gilloise (60 games)
4 FC Levadia Tallinn (61 games)
3 Celtic FC (62 games)
2 FC Sheriff (63 games)
1 FC Steaua Bucuresti (106 games)
Completely overshadowing the other entries on this list (which are hugely impressive) is Romanian outfit FC Steaua Bucuresti, who went a record 106 games without defeat from 1986 to 1989. This staggering run came during a golden era for the team, who famously won the European Cup in ’86 when they beat Barcelona on penalties in the final. Their goalkeeper at the time, Helmuth Duckadam, saved all four of Barcelona’s penalty attempts to help his team become the first Easter European team to lift the trophy. The team have managed to continue to dominate domestically, and it seems unlikely that their remarkable 106 game streak will ever be topped.
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