Italy extended their unbeaten run in European Qualifiers to 54 games on Saturday, but there is another side not too far behind them on 33 matches. Guess who?
Italy extended their unbeaten run in qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO to 54 matches on Saturday, a record made more remarkable by the fact that only two other teams are even on double figures.
Barack Obama was still a senator the last time the Azzurri experienced a competitive defeat outside of major tournaments. That came over ten years ago, on 6 September 2006, when two Sidney Govou goals helped France gain a measure of revenge for their World Cup final loss a couple of months before.
Spain, for so long the benchmark, are 12 qualifiers unbeaten as they rebuild their aura of invincibility. That is some distance behind Italy and also England, who are second on the list with an impressive tally of 33 matches stretching back over seven years (to Obama's first as United States president!).
England's last loss came against Ukraine in 2009, when they played 77 minutes with ten men after Robert Green was sent off before losing 1-0. They have had five different managers during their run.
Last 54 qualifiers: W40 D14
Last qualifying loss: 1-3 v France, 6 September 2006
Last 33 qualifiers: W25 D8
Last qualifying loss: 1-0 v Ukraine, 10 October 2009
Last 12 qualifiers: W11 D1
Last qualifying loss: 2-1 v Slovakia, 9 October 2014