Barcelona can join an elite group of unbeaten European title winners
The LaLiga title is already secure for Barcelona but they still have something to play for between now and the end of the season: an unbeaten league campaign.
Only seven sides have ever completed an unbeaten season in one of Europe’s top five leagues and it hasn’t been done in Spain for almost 90 years.
Who can Barcelona join in history and how do they compare?
Preston North End, 1888/89
22 games – 18 wins, 4 draws – 74 goals, 15 conceded
The original ‘Invincibles’, Preston won the old First Division title with ease as they completed a season without losing. Like Barcelona, they also won the domestic cup in the same year. Unfortunately they tasted defeat in just their second game of the following season.
Athletic Club, 1929/30
18 games – 12 wins, 6 draws – 63 goals, 28 conceded
Athletic were the first team in the history of Spanish football to achieve an unbeaten season in the top flight. Their record doesn’t look as impressive as Preston’s but they won’t mind. The run ended with the opening game of the following season but Athletic did win back-to-back titles.
Real Madrid, 1931/32
18 games – 10 wins, 8 draws – 37 goals, 15 conceded
Just two years after Athletic, came Real Madrid. They drew even more games and scored a paltry 37 in comparison. They went unbeaten but the results don’t exactly stand out all these years later. Like Athletic, hey lost the first game of the following season but went on to retain the title.
AC Milan, 1991/92
34 games – 22 wins, 12 draws – 74 goals, 21 conceded
One of the greatest sides in European history were led through a league campaign without losing by Fabio Capello. Marco van Basten ended the season as the league’s top goalscorer, Ancelotti was still in midfield with Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit, and Franco Baresi was at the back with a young(-ish) Paolo Maldini. Their unbeaten run ended at 58 games.
38 games – 26 wins, 12 draws – 73 goals, 26 conceded
Arsène Wenger’s side became the first English team ‘in the modern era’ to be crowned invincibles. Wenger had predicted it a year earlier and certainly had the last laugh. Arsenal’s unbeaten run stretched to 49 games, a record in English football.
38 games – 23 wins, 15 draws – 68 goals, 20 conceded
The first of Juventus’ titles after the Calciopoli scandal and they’ve been champions of Italy ever since. Led by Antonio Conte, the unbeaten run was extended to 49 the following season before defeat ended their hope of chasing down Milan’s record.
Honourable mention: Perugia, 1978/79
11 wins and 19 draws, Perugia went unbeaten in Serie A in the late 1970s … and finished second. Too many draws proved costly and they ended up three points adrift of champions AC Milan.
That’s got to hurt.