Europe's longest domestic winning streaks
Saturday, January 14, 2017
The New Saints' winning streak has come to an end as a shock draw denied them a 23rd successive league victory. So where does that run rank in international terms?
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29 games – Benfica (Portugal) 1971/73
Benfica's European record winning sequence started at the end of one title-winning season and continued well into the next, with the Eagles lifting the 1972/73 crown without losing – a first in Portugal. English coach Jimmy Hagan played his part, as Eusébio recalled: "He liked discipline. The players thought his training sessions were really hard, but the team soon began to win matches and we knew it was worth it. He gave us extra strength and that was the reason we won three straight championships."
28 – Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) 2006/07
Eduardo, Luka Modrić and Vedran Ćorluka were key contributors to Dinamo's dazzling run in Croatia, heralded by a 5-1 triumph over Istra in November 2006 and halted by a 4-3 defeat at Varteks (now Varaždin) in September 2007. On the eve of the latter fixture, coach Branko Ivanković said: "We have a great side. We are going to win our 29th game in a row and equal Benfica's record so that this Dinamo generation get a place in world football history." So close, but ultimately so far.
28 – Ferencváros (Hungary) 1931-33
Having recorded victories in their final two matches of the previous season, the Green Eagles reached some kind of critical mass in 1932, taking the Hungarian title by winning all 22 of their league fixtures. Two more successes at the start of the following campaign set a record that was to stand for decades until Benfica trumped it.
25 – Celtic (Scotland) 2003/04
Celtic attained a new British milestone of 25 consecutive league victories between August 2003 and February 2004, scoring 86 goals in the process, as Martin O'Neill's men completed a Scottish domestic double in Henrik Larsson's final campaign in Glasgow. "We would go on these runs and look to every game as one we could win," former defender Johan Mjällby remembered. "Once a team starts winning it's hard to stop them."
25 – Dinamo Tirana (Albania) 1951/52
Dinamo's hot streak came in the midst of their four successive championship triumphs from 1950, the year of their formation, to 1953. It started against Puna on 18 April 1951, week 17 of the season, and finished on 1 June the following year when they drew 0-0 with the same opponents. With 18 league titles, Dinamo remain Albania's second most successful club but they have been in the second tier since relegation in 2011/12.
24 – Crvena zvezda (Serbia) 2015/16
In between a 1-1 draw at home against Radnički Niš on 21 July 2015 and a 0-0 at Vojvodina on 2 April 2016, Miodrag Božović’s ‘Red Star’ destroyed all comers, their 24-game winning run including home and away wins against Belgrade rivals Partizan. "Every adventure like this is great and we enjoyed it while it lasted," shrugged Božović. "Our run was stopped, but that always happens."
23 – Malmö (Sweden) 1949/50
After sealing the 1948/49 Swedish crown with five straight victories at the end of the season, Malmö picked up the pace the following campaign with a 2-0 opening-round success at Elfsborg on 31 July 1949. They would not drop a point until being held 3-3 at AIK on 14 May 1950.
22 – Käpäz (Azerbaijan) 1997/98
Mehman Allahverdiyev's side of 1997/98 remain the only team to win the league undefeated, and for ten months until 23 September 1998 opponents could not even take a point off them. It should be noted, though, that two of the 22 matches were technical victories awarded to Käpäz.
22 – PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) 1987/88
Having revved up with wins in their last five outings of 1986/87, PSV proved unstoppable in the next term despite losing Ruud Gullit that summer. Hans van Breukelen, Ronald Koeman, Eric Gerets, Berry van Aerle, Jan Heintze, Ivan Nielsen, Søren Lerby, Gerald Vanenburg, Wim Kieft and veteran Willy van de Kerkhof shone under debutant coach Guus Hiddink. A 2-2 draw with Twente on 16 January 1988 curtailed the run, yet PSV comfortably claimed a domestic double and landed the European Cup for good measure.
22 – The New Saints (Wales) 2016
Victorious in their last league outing of 2015/16, the Saints began their bid for a sixth successive title by winning all 21 of their top-flight matches before the new year, scoring 74 goals in the process! The run ended in their first outing of 2017, held 3-3 by relegation-threatened Newtown, but by then they had earned their place in history: with cup games added, their run of 27 wins in all competitions is a world record.
19 – Bayern München (Germany) 2013/14
19 – Ajax (Netherlands) 1971/72
18 – FH (Iceland) 2004/05
17 – Olympiacos (Greece) 2005–06, 2015/16
17 – Internazionale Milano (Italy) 2006/07
17 – Steaua Bucureşti (Romania) 1988
17 – Dinamo Bucureşti (Romania) 1988
16 – Real Madrid (Spain) 2016–17
16 – Barcelona (Spain) 2010/11
16 – APOEL (Cyprus) 2008/09
16 – Valur Reykjavík (Iceland) 1978
15 – Bangor City (Wales) 2010
15 – Sparta Praha (Czech Republic) 1999/2000
15 – Benfica (Portugal) 1963
15 – Real Madrid (Spain) 1960/61