Man City flag

Rodri’s Incredible Unbeaten Streak Comes to an End

We’ve written on these very pages about the concept of an ‘Invincibles’ season – that is, a team that goes through an entire league campaign unbeaten. But Manchester City midfielder, Rodri, can lay claim to a unique record of his own; an unbeaten run that finally came to an end at the 2024 FA Cup final – nearly 18 months after it started.

The Spaniard avoided defeat in a whopping 74 games in a row for the Cityzens – a run which lasted for an incredible 475 days. City did lose games within that span, but Rodri either wasn’t playing or the defeat came after extra time or penalties – which doesn’t count for the sake of the record books.

The 27-year-old was playing when Pep Guardiola’s men lost in penalty shootouts in the Community Shield game of 2023 and the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid in 2024 – neither counting against his name. Any game that City lost within 90 minutes over the past 18 months, Rodri was either injured or suspended – while defeat in the League Cup against Newcastle United came when Guardiola decided to rest key players like Rodri.

The irony won’t be lost on anyone that the team to end Rodri’s unbeatable run was City’s local rivals Manchester United – a side that had experienced a hapless season under Erik ten Hag.

Of all the sides to end Rodri’s remarkable run, few saw it being United in a showpiece occasion at Wembley Stadium.

European Master

Rodri (Rolandhino1 /

When looking solely at European football’s big five leagues of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, Rodri now stands out alone with the longest unbeaten run in history. That said, he only surpassed the previous best mark by one game – the Spaniard no doubt delighted that City were able to defeat West Ham on the final day of the 2023/24 season.

The previous mark was set by two legends of AC Milan’s modern history: Paolo Maldini and Demetrio Albertini. They were both key figures in a run that saw the Rossoneri go 73 games unbeaten between 1991 and 1993 – a streak that unsurprisingly gave Milan the tag of ‘Gli Invincibili’, which you don’t need to be told translates from Italian as The Invincibles.

The only blot on the copybook was defeat to Juventus in the 1991/92 Coppa Italia semi-final, although that didn’t count towards the outstanding runs put together by Maldini and Albertini. Although they played side by side at the San Siro, the symmetry of the two players’ 73-game streak is surprising given that they achieved some of their unbeaten run at different times.

Albertini made his Milan debut in January 1989, and incredibly didn’t lose a game until April 1993 – a span in which he was in and out of the team. Maldini, on the other hand, was an almost impassable defender – once he’d made his debut for the Rossoneri, he was pretty much an ever-present from May 1991 to March 1993. The unbeaten span brought two Serie A titles, a European Cup and a Super Cup – that vintage of AC Milan is one of the best teams continental football has ever seen.

Sol Man

From a purely Premier League perspective, Rodri took his tally to 50 games unbeaten in City’s defeat of West Ham in May 2024. It means that the Spaniard will carry his streak into the 2024/25 campaign – where he will no doubt have his eye on the all-time record.

Arsenal will long be remembered for their Invincibles season of 2003/04, but what is less known is that they actually ended the 2002/03 campaign like a train too – losing only two of their last 21 games. So when you combine the two seasons, there’s a chance that some players – if they were ‘lucky’ enough to miss the defeats that did come along for the Gunners – would string together an almighty unbeaten run of their own.

Thierry Henry and Kolo Toure, key figures during that period of Arsenal dominance, did exactly that, appearing in a string of 48 games unbeaten apiece. But the ultimate Premier League unbeaten record goes to a player whose success outlasted the Invincibles – Sol Campbell went an extraordinary 56 games unbeaten between November 2002 and October 2004.

Celtic Marching On

Celtic Park
Celtic Park (Zhi Yong Lee /

That’s the longest unbeaten run for a player wrapped up, but what about for an individual team? There’s some degree of debate in the official figures – which competitions are construed as counting and which aren’t, but the general consensus that the greatest unbeaten run in top-tier football belongs to the Celtic side of 1915-1917.

They went a lengthy 62 games in all competitions without losing – winning 49 and drawing 13, scoring an eye-popping 126 goals on their way to landing two Scottish titles. Of the modern era, this excellent Bayer Leverkusen side tops the charts – they went 51 Bundesliga, cup and continental games unbeaten during 2023/24; finally going down to Atalanta in the Europa League final at the end of the campaign.

There are a couple of other records of a similar vein that are interesting. Step forward Steaua Bucharest, who when looking at unbeaten runs in league games only, racked up a mind-boggling 104 game unbeatable streak between 1986 and 1989. This was a vintage time for the Romanians, who won their sole European Cup during this span and reached the final of another, as well as winning their domestic title five seasons in a row.

But perhaps we’ve saved the best for last. How’s this for a record: when considering only league games played on home soil, Red Star Belgrade – more commonly known today as Crvena Zvezda – have avoided defeat in 132 games in a row! It’s a record that was started in 2017 and is still, at the time of writing, ongoing – just how many home wins will they rack up?