Thursday July 18th, 2024 7:04AM

Bayer Leverkusen finally loses but on list of storied sports teams with long unbeaten streaks

By The Associated Press

The record-setting run of Bayer Leverkusen is over at 51.

The German club was on the longest unbeaten streak by a team in a major European soccer league since the introduction of European competitions, but it ended after losing to Atalanta 3-0 in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Here's a look at some other long undefeated streaks in sports:


The men's and women's teams for English soccer club Arsenal have both set records that have earned them the “Invincibles” moniker. The men's team managed by Arsene Wenger went through the entire 2003-04 season unbeaten in the Premier League (26 wins and 12 draws) — though not in Europe — for a feat previously achieved in England's top flight only by Preston, which didn't lose in its 22-game league campaign in 1888-89. As for Arsenal's women's team, it went 108 games undefeated from 2003-09 — winning seven straight English league titles in the process.


When it comes to European soccer, nothing quite compares to Romanian club Steaua Bucharest going on a 119-match unbeaten run domestically from 1986-89. A team containing star players like Gheorghe Hagi and Marius Lacatus didn't lose in 104 leagues matches as well as 15 in Romania's cup competition. During that run, Steaua also reached the final and semifinals of the European Cup.


The West Indies blew through test cricket in the 1980s and early 1990s, with its artillery of pace bowlers and stylish batters helping the team go unbeaten in 29 test series in the long form of the sport. The run started in 1980 — when Viv Richards was the batting king of cool and Andy Roberts and Joel Garner were the bowlers unleashing intimidating deliveries — and lasted until the tour of Australia in 1994-95.


Rugby’s best unbeaten record at international level belongs to England’s women, who had a 30-match, three-year streak without losing. It started in July 2019 by beating New Zealand and ended against the same opponent in the Women's World Cup final in November 2022, when England had to play with 14 women for more than an hour because of a red card. Even then, England almost won, going down 34-31 in Auckland.


It was more than 50 years ago — in 1972, to be precise — that the Miami Dolphins executed a perfect season in the NFL with 17 straight wins including the Super Bowl. It's a feat that has never been emulated. Don Shula's Dolphins won all 14 of their regular-season games and all three playoff games, including Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins (now known as the Commanders). The New England Patriots went 18-0 in the 2007 regular season and playoffs but lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl to end their chase for perfection.


Imagine being perfect for two straight seasons. Well that's what UCLA was during a run of 88 straight wins from 1971-74 in men's college basketball, encompassing unbeaten seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73. Then, in 1975-76, along came the Indiana Hoosiers, who went the entire season unbeaten with its 32-0 record — bettering the previous season when the team was 31-1 and vowed to return stronger.

UConn women’s basketball won 111 consecutive games before losing to Mississippi State 66-64 in overtime in a 2017 NCAA Tournament semifinal, a defeat that also ended the Huskies’ run of four straight national titles. That semifinal was UConn’s first loss since an 88-86 overtime defeat at Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014.

In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers won 33 straight games in 1971-72, a streak that still stands as the longest in the competition's history over half a century later.


The longest winning streak in the modern era of Major League Baseball dates to 1916, when the New York Giants had 26 victories (including a tie in the second game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates). Playing in the first year of their purple plaid uniforms, the Giants won 17 straight games in May only to top that with an even longer streak from Sept 7-30. There is an equivalent streak by the Boston Red Stockings from April-June 1875, when the team played in the National Association before the National League’s founding a year later.


The U.S. women's eight went undefeated from 2006-17 in major international rowing championships, during which time they won three Olympic titles (2008, 2012 and 2016) and gold at eight straight world championships from 2006-15. The streak ended with a fourth place in the worlds in 2017.


AP sports:

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball, AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
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