Celtic have one foot in the UEFA Champions League door after defeating Kazakhstan’s FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of the play-off tie. The victory had a special meaning for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who not only completed the 2016-17 season without suffering a defeat but have now gone 41 matches without a defeat in all competitions. Let’s break down the eighth longest unbeaten streak in European football’s history.
Longest unbeaten runs in European competitions
- Celtic: 62 matches between 1915-97
- Union SG: 60 matches between 1933-35
- Benfica: 48 matches between 1963-65
- Dinamo Zagreb: 45 matches between 2014-15
- Juventus: 43 matches between 2011-12
- Ajax: 42 matches in 1995-96
- Milan: 42 matches in 1991-92
- Celtic: 41 matches in 2016-
- Nottingham Forest: 40 matches in 1978
- Real Madrid: 40 matches between 2016-17
Since losing 2-0 to Barcelona in the Group Stage of last season’s Champions League on November 23, Celtic have won 36 matches and have drawn five of those. They have scored 185 goals and have only conceded 22 keeping 24 clean sheets.
Scott Sinclair has led the way with 20 goals in this period, Stuart Armstrong has 16, Moussa Dembele has scored 15, and Callum McGregor and Leigh Griffiths have 13 each.
🍀Goals in their first 57 games for #Celtic…
– Sinclair: 29
– Dalglish: 22
– Larsson: 21
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) August 16, 2017
Celtic spent 35 consecutive weeks on top of the Scottish Premier League and have gone 41 league matches without defeat, their last loss (a 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone) came in May 2016.
Celtic’s longest winning streak in this run has been 17 matches dating from December to March. Partick Thistle have been affected the most by The Bhoys’ unbeaten run, they’ve faced the champions of Scotland five times during the past 41 matches, and have been on the losing end four times.
Sure there are naysayers to Celtic’s reign and that’s fine. They’ve just passed Real Madrid’s 40-match streak from last season but they faced the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Borussia Dortmund. Celtic finished 30 points ahead of second placed Aberdeen who finished nine points ahead of third placed Rangers. St Johnstone finished fourth to reach Europa League qualifying, but finished 48 points off top spot.
But credit must be given where it is due, particularly to manager Brendan Rodgers who was sacked by Liverpool in October 2015. Here’s what the Northern Irish manager has achieved at the Glaswegian club.
- Led Celtic to their 100th major trophy (Scottish League Cup)
- Became the first Celtic manager to win his first three matches against rivals Rangers
- Led the club to their sixth consecutive league title
- Inflicted Rangers’ heaviest home defeat in 102 years (winning 5-1 at the Ibrox)
- Secured Celtic’s fourth domestic treble (Scottish Premiership, Scottish League Cup, and Scottish Cup)
- Went entire 16-17 season without a single defeat
So will this Celtic team go on and break the record that they hold? Will they become the greatest team in football history? Or will this article put a curse on Celtic and force them to lose this weekend?
We're Not Here to Take Part
We're Here to Take Over! pic.twitter.com/39tb8DaTuN
— Celtic Photos (@PhotoCeltic) August 16, 2017