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Top seven longest unbeaten runs in international football of all time

Published at :June 27, 2021 at 6:58 PM
Modified at :November 23, 2022 at 5:24 AM
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Italy matched their own previous record after beating Austria in EURO 2020 Round of 16 clash.

The first semifinal of the UEFA Euro 2020 saw Italy defeat Spain on penalties on July 7. The game went into extra time and then penalties after both sides finished 1-1 in regulation time. The victory propelled Italy to the final of the tournament. It also extended their unbeaten run to 33 games, making it the third longest unbeaten runs in the history of international football.

Italy's feat is currently among the top five best unbeaten runs in the history of international football. Here is a look at the five longest unbeaten runs in men’s international football, featuring some of the most iconic national teams of the past.

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7. Italy - 30 matches

Italy set a record of going 30 games without a defeat which stood for many years. The side, led by coach Vittorio Pozzo, remained unbeaten from 1935 to 1939, a period of four long years. The Azzurri recorded several accolades during this streak.

First was a Gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Germany. The second major achievement was winning the 1938 FIFA World Cup held in France. It was Italy's second successive World Cup title after the 1934 title win as well. Their unscathed streak eventually ended after a defeat to Switzerland in a friendly game.

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6. Argentina - 31 matches

The third-longest unbeaten streak in Men’s international football is held by Argentina. The streak was set from 1991 to 1993. The record started after the painful loss to West Germany in the 1990 FIFA World Cup final. 

During the course of the unbeaten run, Argentina won the Copa America in 1991 and 1993. La Albiceleste had Gabriel Batistuta in their ranks, who scored 16 goals during this unbeaten run. 

5. Algeria - 35 matches

Algeria started their incredible run in November 2018 and went unbeaten for around 3 years. They also won the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) during their unbeaten run. They beat Senegal 1-0 in the AFCON final to lift the title.

Algeria's unbeaten run was ended with a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of outsiders Equatorial Guinea in January 2022. Esteban Obiang scored in the 70th-minute goal to hand his side the 1-0 win.

4. Spain - 35 matches

Spain won the 2008 UEFA Euros during this period

Spain’s team of the late 2000s is regarded as one of the strongest international teams of all time. Spain are level with Brazil at the top with a streak of 35 games unbeaten. La Roja did not lose a game between 2007-2009. This golden generation of Spanish football saw players like Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Xavi and more come to the fore.

In this period, Spain won the 2008 UEFA Euro by defeating Germany in the final. A shock defeat to the United States of America in the 2009 Confederations Cup ended the streak. However, Spain picked up their form again and won 27 of the following 28 games. This run had the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 UEFA Euro triumphs.

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3. Brazil - 35 matches 

The first team to reach the mark of 35 games without being defeated are Brazil of the 1990s. This iconic team holds the record of joint longest unbeaten run in international football. The streak ran for three years, between 1993-1996.

In the course of this run, Brazil won the 1994 FIFA World Cup by defeating Italy on penalties in a memorable final. The streak came to an end against Mexico.

Brazil lost to the CONCACAF member nation in the Gold Cup in 1996. Brazil were the reigning World Champions and participated in the tournament as a guest team.

2. Argentina - 36 matches

Argentina extend their run to 36 games unbeaten with a 5-0 victory over USA. The unbeaten run started in July 2019. The nation lifted the has Copa America trophy in 2021 and the CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions trophy in 2022. But Argentina's run came to an end in the opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Saudi Arabia.

1. Italy - 37 matches

As mentioned above, Italy surpassed their own previous best record by going 35 games without a defeat. their last defeat came in September 2018 against Portugal in a UEFA Nations League game. Since then, Roberto Mancini's side have not lost a single match and are only four short of matching the all-time unbeaten record.

Italy drew against Switzerland on September 6, 2021 in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers to create a new record of 36 unbeaten matches.

Moreover, their record is the longest active unbeaten run followed by Algeria, who have not lost their last 27 games. Roberto Mancini’s men surpassed Argentina with their victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals of the Euro 2020.

*Last updated on 22 November, 2022.