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What is longest unbeaten run in international football? Details as Argentina target record at World Cup

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Argentina are expected to be among the teams capable of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup, not least because Lionel Messi and his teammates are on a formidable unbeaten run that has put the Albiceleste on the brink of a world record.

Their sequence has shown no signs of slowing in recent months. Starting with their 3-0 win over Italy in the Finalissima at Wembley in June, Argentina have scored 19 times without reply across five games, including 5-0 thrashings of Estonia and the United Arab Emirates.

The run began in 2019 and has included qualification for the finals and Messi’s first major trophy with his country when the player of the tournament was part of a 1-0 win over Brazil in the final of the Copa America 2021.

Whose record are Argentina set to break? Which teams have previously gone the longest without defeat? The Sporting News takes a look.

MORE: Group C in 2022 World Cup, featuring Argentina & Mexico

Longest unbeaten streaks in international football

Italy missed their chance to preserve their own 37-game record when they were comprehensively beaten by a swaggering Argentina side.

Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri had looked all-conquering to that point as they set the current benchmark and won Euro 2020, only to then lose against Spain in October 2021 and, almost six months later, suffer a shock defeat to North Macedonia that makes them the most high-profile team not to be at the World Cup.

Curiously, three nations in three different regions — Europe (Italy), South America (Argentina) and Africa (Algeria) — have all achieve unprecedentedly long stretches of success at virtually the same time.

The list of longest unbeaten streaks in global football includes some of the world’s great footballing nations, featuring both European and South American powerhouses.

By its own estimation, defending AFCON 2019 champion Algeria was in this elite company – but world governing body FIFA didn’t see it quite the same way.

Longest unbeaten streaks in international football

Country Games
Unbeaten (W-L-D)
Streak Began Streak Ended Ended By
Italy 37 (30-0-7) Oct. 10, 2018 Oct. 6, 2021 Spain
Argentina* 36 (27-0-9) July 2, 2019
Algeria 35 (26-0-9) Nov. 18, 2018 Jan. 16, 2022 Equatorial Guinea
Spain 35 (32-0-3) Feb. 7, 2007 June 24, 2009 United States
Brazil 35 (28-0-7) Dec. 16, 1993 Jan. 21, 1996 Mexico
Argentina  31 (21-0-10) Feb. 20, 1991 Aug. 15, 1993 Colombia
France 30 (22-0-8) Feb. 16, 1994 June 26, 1996 Czech Republic
Italy 30 (24-0-6) Nov. 24, 1935 Nov. 12, 1939 Switzerland
Algeria 25 (17-0-8) Nov. 14, 2019 Jan. 16, 2022 Equatorial Guinea

* Active

The issue of which matches count and which don’t has come up in the case of other teams, too.

Italy’s record streak in the 1930s, which was unmatched for over 50 years, officially did not include a match that the Italians were losing to Austria 2-0 before it was abandoned due to crowd trouble.

Brazil’s run (1993-96) is somewhat controversial, because many argue that the streak-snapping loss to Mexico should not have counted, since it came in the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup final against what was practically a Brazil Under-23 team preparing to play in the Olympics.

Removing the three wins and one loss that Brazil suffered in that 1996 Gold Cup, Brazil would have reached 40 games unbeaten before losing at full strength.

FIFA officially counted those Gold Cup matches as senior contests, so the defeat to Mexico could not be discarded.

Brazil’s case didn’t hold water with FIFA, and Algeria’s didn’t either.

MORE: FIFA disputes Algeria unbeaten streak ended in early 2022

When can Argentina set the unbeaten record?

Argentina simply need to avoid defeat against Saudi Arabia in their opening World Cup Group C game to equal Italy’s all-time record of 37 unbeaten, while two games without defeat in Qatar will see the Albiceleste stand alone in history.

Argentina’s possible World Cup fixtures

Date Opponent Competition
Nov. 22 Saudi Arabia World Cup Group C
Nov. 26 Mexico World Cup Group C
Nov. 30 Poland World Cup Group C
Dec. 3-6* TBD World Cup Round of 16
Dec. 9-10* TBD World Cup Quarterfinals
Dec. 13-14* TBD World Cup Semifinals
Dec. 18* TBD World Cup Final

* Potential World Cup knockout match if Argentina advance

Argentina longest unbeaten international run: the results

Argentina’s impressive run of results has included three games against Brazil, winning twice and drawing once against the top-ranked nation in the world. Of five games against Chile, two were wins, while three were draws.

One game that is not included in the run is a game against Brazil that was scheduled to take place in September 2021.

That match had barely started when it was suspended, because Brazilian health authority officials entered the pitch to intervene over four Argentina players who broke COVID-19 quarantine regulations by taking part in the game.

No. Date Result Competition
1 July 6, 2019 Argentina 2-1 Chile Copa America
3 Sept. 10, 2019 Argentina 4-0 México Friendly
4 Oct. 9, 2019 Germany 2-2 Argentina Friendly
5 Oct. 13, 2019 Argentina 6-1 Ecuador Friendly
6 Nov. 15, 2019 Argentina 1-0 Brazil Friendly
7 Nov. 18, 2019 Argentina 2-2 Uruguay Friendly
8 Oct 8, 2020 Argentina 1-0 Ecuador World Cup Qualifier
9 Oct. 13, 2020 Bolivia 1-2 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
10 Nov 12, 2020 Argentina 1-1 Paraguay World Cup Qualifier
11 Nov. 17, 2020 Peru 0-2 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
12 June 3, 2021 Argentina 1-1 Chile World Cup Qualifier
13 June 8, 2021 Colombia 2-2 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
14 June 14, 2021 Argentina 1-1 Chile Copa America
15 June 18, 2021 Argentina 1-0 Uruguay Copa America
16 June 21, 2021 Argentina 1-0 Paraguay Copa America
17 June 28, 2021 Argentina 4-1 Bolivia Copa America
18 July 3, 2021 Argentina 3-0 Ecuador Copa America
19 July 6, 2021 Argentina 1-1 (3-2) Colombia Copa America
20 July 10, 2021 Brazil 0-1 Argentina Copa America
21 Sept. 2, 2021 Venezuela 1-3 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
22 Sept. 9, 2021 Argentina 3-0 Bolivia World Cup Qualifier
23 Oct. 7, 2021 Paraguay 0-0 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
24 Oct. 10, 2021 Argentina 3-0 Uruguay World Cup Qualifier
25 Oct. 14, 2021 Argentina 1-0 Peru World Cup Qualifier
26 Nov. 12, 2021 Uruguay 0-1 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
27 Nov. 16, 2021 Argentina 0-0 Brazil World Cup Qualifier
28 Jan. 27, 2022 Chile 1-2 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
29 Feb. 1, 2022 Argentina 1-0 Colombia World Cup Qualifier
30 March 25, 2022 Argentina 3-0 Venezuela World Cup Qualifier
31 March 29, 2022 Ecuador 1-1 Argentina World Cup Qualifier
32 June 1, 2022 Italy 0-3 Argentina Finalissima
33 June 5, 2022 Argentina 5-0 Estonia Friendly
34 Sept. 23, 2022 Argentina 3-0 Honduras Friendly
35 Sept. 27, 2022 Argentina 3-0 Jamaica Friendly
36 Nov. 16, 2022 UAE 0-5 Argentina Friendly


Credit: sportingnews.com

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