After Spain ended Italy’s record 37-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 win over the Euro 2020 champions, Mirror Sport looks at the previous longest streaks in international football.
Spain ended the longest unbeaten run in international football history when Ferran Torres scored twice in a 2-1 win over Italy on Wednesday.
Lorenzo Pellegrini’s late goal proved a mere consolation as Spain gained revenge for their Euro 2020 semi-final defeat – halting the Azzurri’s unbreakable sequence at a world-record 37 games.
That run began back in October 2018, just five months into Roberto Mancini’s reign, and included Italy reaching the European Championship final where they beat Gareth Southgate’s England.
Wednesday’s Nations League semi-final defeat to Spain was the Azzurri’s first since André Silva struck the only goal for Portugal in the same competition on September 10, 2018. It was also their first loss in a competitive home match since 1999.
Italy – 37 games (2018 to 2021)
Italy’s world record run began on October 10, 2018, with a 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine. Hardly a scoreline to set the world alight – but it was the beginning of something special.
Under former Manchester City boss Mancini, the Azzurri went on to qualify for Euro 2020 with a 100% record.
In the tournament proper, they won all their group games against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, before beating Austria and Belgium in the knockout stages and finally seeing off Spain and England via penalty shootouts.
Impressively, they recorded 11 straight wins without conceding a goal before Austria scored against them in the last-16 stage at Euro 2020.
Since the summer tournament they have drawn with Bulgaria and Switzerland before beating Lithuania 5-0 – with their unbeaten run comprising 30 wins and seven draws, with 93 goals scored and just 12 conceded.
Spain – 35 games (2007 to 2009)
A 1-0 win over England in 2007 proved a sign of things to come for a Spain side who would prove themselves arguably the greatest international side in history.
Andres Iniesta scored his first international goal after coming on as a sub in that game at Old Trafford, while Xavi dictated the pace in midfield for a Spain side also containing the likes of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres.
The unbeaten run that ensued included Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph and continued throughout the start of the 2010 World Cup qualification, before being ended by a shock 2-0 defeat to the USA in the Confederations Cup.
But better things were to come, as that defeat proved an anomaly in an incredible run of 27 wins from 28 games, with Spain going on to win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
Brazil – 35 games (1993 to 1996)
Spain’s run had equaled the previous record set by Brazil, whose 35-game unbeaten sequence included their 1994 World Cup triumph.
A 2-1 defeat to Germany in November 1993 would prove their last for more than two years, as a side containing Dunga, Bebeto and Romario went on to be crowned world champions.
The Selecao won 10 and drew one of their following 11 fixtures after winning the World Cup success.
They lost to Uruguay on penalties in the 1995 Copa America final, but their unbeaten run in normal time extended into January 1996, when they were beaten 2-0 by Mexico in the Gold Cup.
Argentina – 31 games (1991 to 1993)
Argentina produced an impressive response after losing to West Germany in the 1990 World Cup final – launching a 31-game unbeaten run that broke the record at the time.
La Albiceleste remained undefeated as they secured successive Copa America triumphs in 1991 and 1993, inspired by Gabriel Batistuta who scored 16 goals across that period.
He went on to become his country’s leading goalscorer with 54 strikes until his record was beaten by Lionel Messi.
France – 30 games (1994 to 1996)
France fell just short of Argentina’s record with a 30-game run that preceded their 1998 World Cup triumph.
The current World Cup-winning boss Didier Deschamps was a key part of the side that dragged the French team’s fortunes from the doldrums following their failure to qualify for the global tournaments in 1990 and 1994.
France’s run began with a 1-0 win over Italy in February 1994, which saw Les Bleus hand debuts to players such as Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram, who would go on to become legends.
They remained unbeaten into the semi-finals of Euro 96, in which they lost losing on penalties to the Czech Republic.
France lost 1-0 in a friendly against Denmark later that year but went on to win their first World Cup less than two years later, followed by the European Championship in 2000.
Italy – 30 games (1935 to 1939)
Italy’s record unbeaten run beat their previous national best, which lasted four years and was world-leading for more than five decades.
Their 30-match undefeated streak included their 1938 World Cup triumph, which saw them successfully defend the trophy they had won four years earlier.
Italy’s run began following a 2-0 defeat to Czechoslovakia in October 1935, although it looked set to end in 1937 when they were losing 2-0 to Austria before the match was abandoned due to crowd trouble.
The sequence also included winning gold at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, while it came to an end with defeat to Switzerland in 1939.