Bayern Munich was undefeated for almost two seasons in Europe before their unbeaten run came to an end against PSG when they lost 2-3. Like the Bavarians, a few great teams of the past have gone on memorable winning runs in the UCL. In this article, we will take a look at five of the longest unbeaten runs in the history of UCL.
#5 Barcelona – 16 games (08/03/2011 – 03/04/2012)
Arguably the greatest footballing team of all time, Pep’s Barcelona were ruthless in Europe and set several records. After an unforeseen 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in London, Barcelona bounced back in the R-16 second leg of the 2010/11 season.
An unforgettable performance from Leo Messi started the unbeaten run as Barcelona crushed Arsenal 4-0 at the Camp Nou. Barcelona won the competition in 2011 after defeating Shakhtar, Real Madrid, and Manchester United in the subsequent stages. Their run ended in the 2011/12 semi-final against Chelsea as the Catalans failed to equalize after Drogba’s goal in the dying minutes of the first half.
#4 Manchester United – 16 games(04/03/1998 – 29/09/1999 & 23/10/2001 – 23/10/2002)
The United team of the late ’90s and early 2000s were simply unstoppable both in England and Europe. Rather, unfortunately, they only have a single UCL trophy to their name during this period. In the 97/98 semi-final, United went out on away goals but it was the beginning of a memorable run that culminated in the title victory in 1999.
United’s second 16 game unbeaten run lasted exactly for a year but did not yield a trophy. The run started with a 0-3 victory against Olympiakos in the 2001/02 group stage. Leverkusen eliminated United on away goals in the semi-final of the 01/02 campaign. Maccabi Haifa shockingly ended United’s unbeaten run in the next edition with a 3-0 victory.
#3 Bayern München – 19 games (14/03/2001 – 02/04/2002)
The Bayern Munich team that won the 2001 UCL is barely remembered by this generation since the squad did not boast of any big names. However, they were undefeated 19 consecutive games starting from the 2001 second group stage fixture against Arsenal. Bayern Munich defeated Manchester United and Real Madrid en route to the final and Oliver Kahn’s heroics won them the trophy against Valencia.
Bayern’s unbeaten streak extended to the next season until the first leg of the quarter-final against Real Madrid which Bayern won 2-1. But Real Madrid came back strongly in the second leg and won the tie 2-0, thus eliminating Bayern and ending their winning streak.
#2 Ajax – 19 games (14/09/1994 – 20/03/1996)
Louis Van Gaal’s ” total football” philosophy and his team’s exploits on the pitch were widely talked about in Europe during his reign as Ajax manager. Ajax’s streak started with a 2-0 victory over AC Milan in their first outing of the 94/95 UCL. They defeated Milan twice in the group stages by a two-goal margin and in the final defeated them for the third time to clinch the trophy. Their streak ended against Greek side Panathinaikos in the semi-finals of the 95/96 season.
#1 Manchester United – 25 games (19/09/2007 – 05/05/2009)
This was the second all-time great squad assembled by Fergie after his all-conquering United of the late ’90s. On 19 September 2007, Ronaldo scored against his home team Sporting CP to give United a 1-0 victory. It was the beginning of a lengthy undefeated run that ended with the 2009 final defeat to Barcelona.
In 2008, Manchester United won the UCL after defeating Barcelona in the semi-final and Chelsea in the final. Ronaldo was the star of the show in this undefeated run but he departed for Real Madrid after the 2009 UCL final.