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How Many More Matches Can Barcelona's Unbeaten Streak Last?

David Ramos/Getty Images
Daniel TilukFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2016

Barcelona are 20 matches unbeaten.

Their last defeat occurred vs. Sevilla on October 3; since that ill-fated trip to the stingy Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Luis Enrique's men—in four different competitions—have won 15 games and drawn five (with a goal difference of 50).

Those numbers might suggest dominanceand in most cases they dobut the defending La Liga champions are second in the Spanish first division, behind Atletico Madrid. Their game in hand could see them atop the standings, but only by one point.

Three of Barcelona's five draws during this run have come in the league; those six dropped points have allowed other title hopefuls (namely Atletico and Real Madrid) to maintain close proximity.

Not losing matches is no guarantee for success. It is often thought 40 points secures one's safety in a domestic context, but 38 consecutive draws is an unbeaten streak, and one could be relegated with 38 points.

Two points off La Liga's top spot, Barcelona's confidence should be high. They have not lost since October.
Two points off La Liga's top spot, Barcelona's confidence should be high. They have not lost since October.LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Leaving extreme fictions aside, when a club of Barcelona's quality click into gear, the possibility of extended unbeaten streaks heighten. In La Liga, opposed the serious threats of Real and Atletico Madrid, multiple games without incurring loss is necessary.

When one's title rivals are collecting points in copious fashion, keeping pace is mandatory—lest you be left behind.

Barcelona's longest-ever unbeaten streak (in all competitions) is 28 games, set in the 2010/11 season. Under Pep Guardiola, the Catalan giants lost just five fixtures all season—winning two major pieces of silverware. A similar trophy haul is expected this season, but what could be accomplished en route is besting that squad's record of unbeaten games.

Is breaking the 28-game record important in the grand scheme of this season's story? Probably not, but it cannot hurt—especially as title pressure starts building.

Investigate Barca's schedule, and the two major impediments standing in front of history are Atletico and/or Arsenal.

Past and present: Only a handful remain from 2010/11, but they are certainly quality options.
Past and present: Only a handful remain from 2010/11, but they are certainly quality options.Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Record Barcelona in last 20 games: 15W - 5D - 0L #fcblive Club record unbeaten streak: 28 games (23W 5D) in 2010-2011 [via @barcastat]

barcastuff (@barcastuff) January 11, 2016

Former Atletico Madrid star, Adra Turan, is now eligible to help Barcelona win trophies.
Former Atletico Madrid star, Adra Turan, is now eligible to help Barcelona win trophies.David Ramos/Getty Images

The first match takes place on January 30 vs. Atleti. Diego Simeone's outfit are flying. The 2013/14 champions have lost one in their last 20, and without the massive budgets and superstar power Barcelona and Real Madrid carry, they have given a fantastic account of themselves this year—but the finish line is in the distance.

Atletico have not won at the Camp Nou since December 2006. Placing an unrealistic burden on them after a decade of misfortune is wholly cruel. They have an opportunity based on their form, skill and tactical prowess, but Barcelona outmatch nearly every footballing side on Earth in those departments.

Arsenal host the defending Champions League winners at the Emirates Stadium on February 23. Enrique has eight matches to parse between now and then, but—if successfully dodging Atletico Madrid—it is not inconceivable Barcelona meet the north Londoners on a 28-game unbeaten streak.

Traveling to England on short rest, as the schedule currently reads, there might be cause for concern facing a traditionally slick Arsenal—who beat Barcelona in the first leg of the 2010/11 round of 16.

Arsene Wenger has essentially built the English version of the Catalonia superpower, thus overlapping styles could create havoc. Barca would have the edge, but—as seen vs. Bayern Munich—Arsenal can punish Europe's unquestioned elite at home.

Barcelona will probably lose when we least expect it.
Barcelona will probably lose when we least expect it.LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

To remove randomness from sport would be to kill it. Barcelona could lose this week, and we would claim misfortune or freak accident and the streak would reset.

There is no perfect science, nor should we want one.

With Lionel Messi, Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez and the whole host of talent available, rarely (if ever) are Barcelona projected to lose, but they do.

It's an unavoidable casualty of playing sports, of playing football.

So, to answer our title question, how many more matches can Barca go unbeaten? If they play to their skill level, maybe until 2020. Recognising the futility in human perfection, however, expect last season's treble winners to escape January without a loss and head into February's games chasing a historical milestone.

 

*Stats via WhoScored.com; transfer fees via Soccerbase where not noted.

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