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9 Teams That Went a Whole League Season Unbeaten

Written by on May 1, 2024

Highlights

  • Bayer Leverkusen could become the first German team in Bundesliga history to record an unbeaten league season.
  • Preston North End completed the first-ever professional football league season without defeat back in 1888/89.
  • Despite not losing a single match all campaign, Benfica did not win the Portuguese top flight in the 1977/78 season, losing out to Porto on goal difference.



To complete an entire league season without losing a game is arguably one of the most impressive achievements a football team can pull off. The fact that no other side in the division were able to beat one team commands a huge level of respect and frequently earns them the tag of ‘Invincibles’.

Bayer Leverkusen wrapped up their first Bundesliga title in April 2024 and are closing in on what would be the first unbeaten season in the competition’s history. What makes it even more impressive is that the German outfit are also in the final of the DFB Pokal and the semi-finals of the Europa League, having avoided defeat in both of those competitions up to this point as well.

In anticipation of what would be a truly remarkable feat should Leverkusen pull it off, here are nine other teams in major European leagues who have completed an unbeaten season. There are six different nations represented on this list with entries spanning from the very first professional football league season ever to the 2010s.


9 Teams Who Went Unbeaten in a League Season

Season

Team

Division

Matches Played

Manager

1888/89

Preston North End

Football League

22

William Sudell

1898/99

Rangers

Scottish Division One

18

William Wilton

1929/30

Athletic Bilbao

La Liga

18

Fred Pentland

1977/78

Benfica

Primeira Divisao

30

John Mortimore

1991/92

AC Milan

Serie A

34

Fabio Capello

1994/95

Ajax

Eredivisie

34

Louis van Gaal

2003/04

Arsenal

Premier League

38

Arsene Wenger

2010/11

Porto

Primeira Liga

30

Andre Villas-Boas

2011/12

Juventus

Serie A

38

Antonio Conte


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1 Preston North End

1888/89 season

The Preston North End team for the 1888/89 season.

The English top flight is officially regarded as the oldest professional football league in the world and Preston North End were one of the 12 founder members of the division, the first season of which was contested in 1888/89. The Lilywhites were comfortably the best team in the country at the time, and breezed to the league title, finishing top of the table by a whole 12 points ahead of second-placed Aston Villa without losing a single game.

North End won 18 and drew four of their 22 league matches, racking up 74 goals while conceding just 15, more than half of that let in by Wolves, who boasted the second-best defence. They also managed to win the FA Cup to complete the first-ever league and cup double, and rounded off a record-breaking campaign as the game’s very first ‘Invincibles’.


Preston North End

Season

1888/89

Division

Football League

Manager

William Sudell

Matches played

22

Matches won

18

Matches drew

4

League position

1st

2 Rangers

1898/99 season

Rangers supporters hold their scarves aloft.


Ten years after Preston completed the world’s first football league season unbeaten, competitive football was also in full swing north of Hadrian’s Wall. The two Glasgow sides, Rangers and Celtic, were already asserting their dominance in Scotland. Celtic wrapped up their fourth league title in the 1897/98 season and became the first Scottish team to complete a league season unbeaten, but their arch-rivals went one better the following year.

Rangers’ entry stands apart from the rest on this list as being the only perfect season. Not only did the Gers avoid defeat in all 18 matches, they actually won every single game and finished 10 points ahead of second-placed Hearts. William Wilton’s golden iteration of Rangers remains the only men’s side to have ever pulled off such a remarkable feat in European football history.


Rangers

Season

1898/99

Division

Scottish Division One

Manager

William Wilton

Matches played

18

Matches won

18

Matches drawn

0

League position

1st

3 Athletic Bilbao

1929/30 season

Athletic Bilbao fans celebrate against a backdrop featuring their club crest.


Athletic Bilbao are one of the most historic clubs in Spanish football, serving as founder members of La Liga and one of three teams never to have been relegated from the top division, along with Barcelona and Real Madrid. In the first full La Liga campaign in 1929/30, Athletic showcased their ability by winning the league title after going the whole season unbeaten.

The Basque side were managed by Englishman Fred Pentland, who revolutionised the way the team played and led them to the league championship due to them having comfortably the best attack and defence in the division. Athletic won 12 of their 18 matches, and finished 10 points ahead of runners-up Barcelona.


Athletic Bilbao

Season

1929/30

Division

La Liga

Manager

Fred Pentland

Matches played

18

Matches won

12

Matches drawn

6

League position

1st

4 Benfica

1977/78 season

Benfica supporters raise their scarves aloft.

Benfica had long-established themselves as the top team in Portugal by the time the 1977/78 season rolled around and had already completed an unbeaten league season four years before, in which they had won the league by a staggering 14-point margin. They repeated this achievement in 1978, but this entry is unique in that it did not result in a league title at the end of it.


Benfica won 21 of their 30 matches and conceded just 11 goals all season, but this only resulted in them finishing level on points with Porto, who possessed a considerably better goal difference due to them scoring 81 goals in comparison to Benfica’s 56. It was only the sixth time, and the first in 19 years, that Porto had won the league, and they managed it despite Benfica’s unblemished record.

Benfica

Season

1977/78

Division

Primeira Divisao

Manager

John Mortimore

Matches played

30

Matches won

21

Matches drawn

9

League position

2nd


5 AC Milan

1991/92 season

AC Milan trio Frank Rijkaard, Franco Baresi and Ruud Gullit celebrate together.

The AC Milan squad of the late 1980s and early ’90s is arguably one of the greatest teams ever assembled, with the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Franco Baresi, Carlo Ancelotti and Paolo Maldini all featuring in the ranks. Despite the overwhelming amount of quality, the Rossoneri had won just one league title in the 12 years prior to the 1991/92 season.

Under the stewardship of Fabio Capello in his first year of senior management, Milan righted that wrong with an outstanding unbeaten campaign which saw them finish eight points ahead of second-placed Juventus, recording 22 wins and 12 draws. Capello led Milan to three more championships in the next four years before he was poached by Real Madrid in 1996.


AC Milan

Season

1991/92

Division

Serie A

Manager

Fabio Capello

Matches played

34

Matches won

22

Matches drawn

12

League position

1st


6 Ajax

1994/95 season

The Ajax squad line up before a big match in 1995.

Ajax also boasted a team made up of superstars in the mid-1990s and their ability was there for all to see during the 1994/95 season. With a squad containing Edwin van der Sar, Frank Rijkaard, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen, Marc Overmars, Nwankwo Kanu and Patrick Kluivert, Ajax managed to win both the Dutch top flight and Champions League, while avoiding defeat in either competition.

In the Eredivisie, Ajax won 27 of their 34 matches and scored a jaw-dropping 106 goals on their way to wrapping up their 25th Dutch title. In the Champions League, a competition which they had not won in 22 years, Louis van Gaal’s side did the double over AC Milan in the group stage, defeated Hajduk Split and Bayern Munich in the knockout round, before beating Milan again in the final.


Ajax

Season

1994/95

Division

Eredivisie

Manager

Louis van Gaal

Matches played

34

Matches won

27

Matches drawn

7

League position

1st

7 Arsenal

2003/04 season


Arsenal were moulded into a force under Arsene Wenger and had twice completed the league and cup double under the Frenchman before the 2003/04 season rolled around. However, it was in this campaign that the Gunners would forever write themselves into Premier League and English football history.

Spearheaded by Thierry Henry, arguably Arsenal’s greatest striker of all time who bagged 30 league goals during the campaign, the Gunners eased their way to a third Premier League title and did so without losing a single game. They confirmed their status as champions after a draw at White Hart Lane, home to their arch-rivals Tottenham, and their unbeaten streak would last 49 games until a 2-0 defeat away at Manchester United in October 2004 saw it come to an end.


Arsenal

Season

2003/04

Division

Premier League

Manager

Arsene Wenger

Matches played

38

Matches won

26

Matches drawn

12

League position

1st

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8 Porto

2010/11 season

Porto's Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring along with Hulk and Joao Moutinho.


Benfica’s unbeaten 1977/78 league campaign which still didn’t result in a league title has already made this list, but 33 years later, under promising young manager, Andre Villas-Boas, Porto managed to pull off the third unbeaten season in Primeira Liga history and theirs was extra special. Not only did they manage to ease their way to the league title, they also won the Europa League and the Taca de Portugal, although they did taste defeat in both cup competitions along the way.

Porto inflicted a 5-0 thrashing on Benfica, one of the most humiliating derby defeats in football history, as they won the league by a massive 21-point margin over their great rivals, having dropped just six points all season. They had little difficulty in the national cup, thumping Vitoria de Guimaraes 6-2 in the final, and also enjoyed a successful journey through the Europa League, beating fellow Portuguese side Braga 1-0 in the final.


Porto

Season

2010/11

Division

Primeira Liga

Manager

Andre Villas-Boas

Matches played

30

Matches won

27

Matches drawn

3

League position

1st

9 Juventus

2011/12 season

Juventus manager Antonio Conte greets the supporters.


Juventus are by far the most successful team in Italian football, but found themselves in a slump in the early 2010s, having failed to win a league title since the Calciopoli scandal, which saw the club stripped of two titles and demoted to Serie B. The rebuilding process had been slow, but under a new manager, former legendary player Antonio Conte, the Old Lady announced they were truly back in dramatic fashion in the 2011/12 season.

Juve won their first league title in eight years, finishing four points above AC Milan having conceded just 20 goals, and became the first Italian team to avoid defeat in a 38-game season, although they did draw 15 of their matches. They almost topped off a brilliant season with a league and cup double, but were beaten 2-0 by Napoli in the final of the Coppa Italia.


Juventus

Season

2011/12

Division

Serie A

Manager

Antonio Conte

Matches played

38

Matches won

23

Matches drawn

15

League position

1st

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