Comparing Bayern Munich's Undefeated Run to Past Greats of European Football

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

Getty Images

It was another fruitful weekend for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga as former bogey-side Bayer Leverkusen came to the Allianz Arena and finally succumbed to defeat by the tune of two goals to one. 

In a match that offered the first genuine attempt at competition to Bayern's dominance in quite some time throughout the top division, Leverkusen held their own for as long as they could before Pep Guardiola's side overran the visitors to win their 17th consecutive game and go an incredible 50 matches without losing a match. 

This is record-breaking run that Bayern can now add to the ever-growing pile that sits deep within the depths of their Munich fortress, but is this new feat the one that can confirm them as one of the sport's greatest-ever teams? 

The most notable aspect of such a record, besides the sheer distance between Bayern and their nearest rivals in the Bundesliga, is the immediate comparisons it draws with sides from the past that have managed similar achievements. 

Arsenal's undefeated run between May 2003 and October 2004 saw the north London club go 49 games unbeaten with 36 wins and 13 draws as they walked to the Premier League title that season with an air of glamour and prestige that no side has managed since then.

It was a season that most Arsenal fans remember more fondly than any trophy win with memorable victories at Elland Road, Anfield and Stamford Bridge and great goals from the likes of Thierry Henry and particular classics such as Robert Pires' winner at Liverpool. Above all else, it was a good time for Arsenal, which their fans will always cherish. 

Another modern comparison is, of course, Juventus' run between May 2011 and November 2012 in which they too went 49 league games without losing a single game—a record that would eventually see their side win the Serie A and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Although Bayern have already overcome Arsenal and Juventus' personal records, it's essentially what each team did aside from that that sets Bayern out from the rest. For even though Arsenal, Juventus and Bayern all won their respective league titles, it was the Bavarian giants that went one step further and won the ultimate prize: the Champions League.

Of course, there are other great teams that don't even feature in such lists when we compare one to the next. 

The most notable is Guardiola's former side, the great tiki-taka Barcelona team that won all before them within Spain and Europe for a select time period between 2008 and 2012 with what seemed like absolute ease. Yet they never racked up a significant undefeated run—with the odd defeat in the league—and so don't seem worthy of such comparisons. 

Then there comes another side from England in Jose Mourinho's famous Chelsea side that won two consecutive titles whilst managing to remain undefeated in 40 games between November 2004 and the following November in 2005. This team looked unstoppable for so long but couldn't come close to Arsenal's record or even Bayern's new score. 

The one remaining team from the "big leagues" of European football that Bayern have yet to surpass are the famous AC Milan side between 1991 and 1993 that went 58 games unbeaten in the Italian top division.

A side that came after Arrigo Sacchi's "Immortals" from the late eighties, Fabio Capello's "Invincibles" are still regarded by most as the yard stick by which to measure any modern side with three consecutive Serie A titles and a Champions League trophy. 

A number of smaller clubs in minnow leagues that struggle to back up their point of dominance, such as Porto's 55 matches unbeaten from a few years ago or FC Shakhtar's equally impressive run over a decade ago, may come after Bayern's run in terms of mere numbers, but it's that Milan alone that stands in their way of claiming to be the best. 

Whether Bayern will ever overcome the highest-ever record in UEFA, a staggering 106-game run held by FC Steaua Bucuresti over three years throughout the '80s, is certainly up for debate, but Milan's own record looks obtainable. Reach that and there will be very little that can stand between this side and their claim to be the greatest of the modern era.