The English Premier League is considered one of the most competitive competitions in Europe across all top five leagues. Hence, when Arsenal went unbeaten during the 2003-04 season, it was considered a great achievement, with Arsene Wenger’s team getting nicknamed the ‘Invincibles’ and receiving a special gold trophy for their magical season. The only other English club to achieve such a feat were Preston North End, back in 1888-89 season.
With Watford ending Liverpool’s hopes of breaking the record set by Arsenal, there are still a few European leagues wherein a team has gone a full season without losing a game. Here we look at five teams (other than the ‘Invincibles’) who managed this extraordinary feat and etched their names in football folklore forever:
Real Madrid | 1931-32 | La Liga
Although Real Madrid weren’t the first Spanish side to go unbeaten in a whole season (Athletic Bilbao completed the feat in 1929-30), their victory during the 1931-32 season holds special significance as it earmarked the first of a record 33 La Liga trophies. The Madrid-based club managed to score a total of 28 points through the season, winning 10 and drawing another eight of their 18 league games. They finished three points ahead of second-placed Athletic Bilbao, who were considered the top team of that generation.
AC Milan | 1991-92 | Serie A
AC Milan built one of the finest football teams under Arrigo Sacchi, but it was Fabio Capello who led them through a whole season unbeaten in Italian football. Back then, AC Milan were loaded with talented stars such as Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Carlo Ancelotti. They played some beautiful football for their side, winning 22 and drawing 12 of their 34 league games while scoring 74 goals and conceding just 21. Milan went on an amazing 58-match unbeaten streak – still a Serie A record – winning three consecutive Scudetti.
Ajax | 1994-96 | Eredivisie
The Eredivisie or the Dutch National League has been mostly dominated by AFC Ajax or PSV Eindhoven, with the former winning 34 trophies in the history of the Eredivisie. Between 1994 and 1996, Ajax boasted of rostering players like Edwin van der Sar, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer and his brother Ronald de Boer, Jari Litmanen, the list is endless. This team went on a 52-game unbeaten streak, winning the Eredivisie twice, as well as the UEFA Champions League, the Intercontinental Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup, all in the year 1995.
Juventus | 2011-12 | Serie A
Juventus have won the Serie A for the last eight seasons and are on course for their record ninth successive title. Their reign in the Italian league began back in the 2011-12 season when the Bianconeri went unbeaten for the whole season under current Inter head coach Antonio Conte. It was quite the feat, having been relegated to the lowest division of Italian football in 2006 due to the Calciopoli scandal. Led by Andrea Pirlo, Juventus went on to win 23 of their games and drawing 15 of their 38 league games, beginning the most successful period in their history in top-flight football.
Celtic | 2016-17 | Scottish Premier League
The Scottish Premier League is perhaps the least competitive league on this list but the sheer dominance of Celtic through the years cannot be ignored. Often overshadowed by the Premier League, many football fans do not know that the club from Glasgow went on a massive 69-match unbeaten run under current Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers. Celtic finished the season with a record 106 points, becoming the first Scottish side since the Rangers in 1899 to go a whole season undefeated.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Giuseppe Cacace