The nine longest unbeaten international runs of all time

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: September 6, 2021, 13:21 CEST
  • 4 min read

Italy made history by setting a new record for the longest unbeaten run in international football history.

The Azzurri drew 0-0 with Switzerland in Basel in World Cup 2022 qualification to go a World record 36 games unbeaten.

Italy had equalled the all-time record by drawing 1-1 with Bulgaria at home three days earlier.

The last time Roberto Mancini’s men lost a game was way back on September 10, 2018 when they were defeated 1-0 by Portugal in a UEFA Nations League clash.

Italy’s unbeaten run also included a 11-match winning streak.

But the highlight of the journey was winning Euro 2020 as Italy defeated England at Wembley on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Italy defeated England to win Euro 2020

Italy defeated England to win Euro 2020

This all came, of course, after the Azzurri had failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Brazil’s 1994 World Cup winners were the first team to go 35 games unbeaten as they remained undefeated for a period spanning three calendar years from 1993 to 1995. The Selecao were finally stopped by Mexico, who beat them 2-0 in the Gold Cup.

Spain’s golden generation, who would go on to win successive European Championships and a World Cup, also reached 35 games unbeaten from 2007 to 2009.

Coached first by Luis Aragones and then Vicente del Bosque, they failed to make the record theirs outright after suffering a shock 2-0 defeat to the United States in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Next on the list is Argentina, who went 31 games without suffering defeat from 1991 to 1993. The star of the show during this period was Gabriel Batistuta, who scored goals galore as the Albiceleste won back-to-back Copas America. Argentina were finally beaten by Colombia in World Cup 1994 qualification.

Completing the top five is another Italy team, Vittorio Pozzo’s great side from the 1930s that won successive World Cups in 1934 and 1938 plus the Olympics in between.

France also went 30 without loss from 1994 to 1996 as they began their preparation for what would be a first World Cup victory on home soil in 1998.

Algeria are currently, as of September 2021, on a long unbeaten run. They have gone 28 without defeat – no national team from Africa has ever done better.

West Germany (1978-1981) went 23 matches unbeaten and won Euro 1980 during that period. France also embarked on a 23-game undefeated sequence between 2010 and 2012 but had no silverware to show for it.

The longest unbeaten runs in national football

9. France (2010-2012) - 23 matches

8. West Germany (1978-1981) - 23 matches

7. Algeria (2018-present) - 28 matches

6. France (1994-1996) - 30 matches

5. Italy (1935-1939) - 30 matches

4. Argentina (1991-1993) - 31 matches

3. Spain (2007-2009) - 35 matches

2. Brazil (1993-1996) - 35 matches

1. Italy (2018-present) - 36 matches