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Rare undefeated football teams
Published on: Sunday, April 14, 2024
By: AFP
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Rare undefeated football teams
Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim completed an undefeated domestic quadruple in the 2023 Malaysian season.
LONDON: Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen of 2023-24 stand on the cusp of greatness, with just 11 matches theoretically between them and a record undefeated season for a top-five European league team.

Of the 42 matches they have so far played this campaign, they have won 37, drawn five and lost a grand total of zero.

Bayer could win the Bundesliga for the first time in their history this weekend when they take on Werder Bremen, while they won their Europa League quarter-final first leg against West Ham 2-0 and face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

Should their record stay unblemished across their remaining fixtures in all three competitions they will become the first side to go a full season undefeated both domestically and in European competition.

It is a scenario few, if any, would have ever predicated at the start of the season, with German giants Bayern Munich having won the last 11 league titles and no Bundesliga team ever even completing a domestic league season without losing at least once.

In the history of the sport worldwide, many teams have gone an entire league season without losing, such as Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal “Invincibles” of 2003-04, but to do it across multiple competitions is rarified territory.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly won the league and the CAF Champions League without any losses in 2004-05, but were denied from completing the treble only by a penalty shoot-out elimination in the Egypt Cup after their round of 16 tie ended in a draw.

That season in the league, they finished a staggering 31 points clear of second-placed Enppi SC and failed to win only two of 26 matches.

The dominant double was made all the sweeter by a CAF Champions League semi-final victory against bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek by an aggregate score of four goals to one.

One must go back to the 19th century to find such an example in the English game, indeed all the way back to the very advent of the English League in 1888.

Preston North End won a league and cup double in the 1888-89 season, which saw them go undefeated through 22 league matches and claim the FA Cup final 3-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers at London’s Kennington Oval.

Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim completed an undefeated domestic quadruple in the 2023 Malaysian season. 

With the domestic league and cup running from February to December 2023, Johor Darul Ta’zim won a staggering 37 out of 38 games on their way to claiming the country’s Super Cup, Piala Malaysia Cup, FA cup and league title.

Sadly, their domestic dominance didn’t translate to the bigger challenges of the Asian Champions League where they won three group games but lost three. 

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