Club Atlético de Madrid could become the seventh UEFA Champions League winners to go through the season unbeaten – and the first since 2007/08.
Diego Simeone's side have won nine of their 12 fixtures this term – scoring 25 goals and conceding only six, the lowest total of any team to reach the final since Manchester United FC, who let in five en route to the 2008 final in Moscow. The English club are also the most recent side to lift the trophy undefeated.
In contrast, the first three editions of the UEFA Champions League all ended with the victors unbeaten. In both 1992/93 and 1993/94, teams had to come through a first and second round to make the group stage; both Olympique de Marseille and the side who would succeed them as European champions, AC Milan, survived that unscathed and remained unbeaten throughout the group stage that followed.
That inaugural UEFA Champions League season of 1992/93 involved two groups from which the top teams progressed to the final; Marseille won three and drew three in their section before overcoming Milan 1-0 in Munich. Twelve months later Milan were back; despite winning just two matches in the group stage, drawing the other four, they advanced to a semi-final (3-0 v AS Monaco FC) before dismantling FC Barcelona 4-0 in the Athens decider.
AFC Ajax were the third UEFA Champions League winners in 1994/95 and, like their two predecessors, went through the campaign unbowed. With the competition expanded to include quarter-finals, as well as semis and the final, that meant 11 fixtures safely negotiated – six victories and a four draws before Milan were dispatched 1-0 in Vienna.
The champions in each of the next three seasons suffered at least one defeat – indeed, 1995/96 winners Juventus were beaten three times in their 11 games – but Manchester United bucked the trend in 1998/99. They won four and drew six of their fixtures to set up a Camp Nou meeting with FC Bayern München. It seemed like a first defeat of the campaign was on the cards when the final entered added time with Bayern 1-0 up, but famously goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær sent the trophy to Old Trafford.
With the UEFA Champions League subsequently expanding to 17 matches from 1999/2000 and then 13 games from 2003/04 onwards, there were no unbeaten champions until Barcelona in 2005/06. With the Blaugrana also recording four draws, the last of their nine victories came against Arsenal FC at the Stade de France, a 2-1 triumph taking the title back to Spain.
Two years later, United became the only team to twice lift the UEFA Champions League trophy without losing a match, and the first unbeaten winners whose season technically finished with a draw. Having won nine games and drawn three, their all-English final against Chelsea FC ended 1-1 before United prevailed on penalties. While Barcelona have subsequently landed the trophy twice having lost a single game, no victorious side has since gone through a campaign without defeat; it is an illustrious club Atlético could join, one that rarely welcomes new members.
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