Welcome back to another blog, today we are going to be putting together an XI of players who have been part of ‘invincible’ campaigns.
Going unbeaten through a whole league season is a marvellous feat, and only a handful of teams in football history have done it.
I’ve decided to only use a maximum of three players per team, so we can see a variety of teams in this XI.
Let’s look at the ultimate invincibles!
GOALKEEPER- Gianluigi Buffon
Gianluigi Buffon is one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and a Juventus legend. He has played nearly 700 games for the Old Lady in a career that has spanned for 25 years.
Buffon was part of the Juventus invincibles from the 2011/12 season. The Italian missed just three Serie A games, and he was a major part of a defence that conceded just 20 goals in their 38 Serie A games.
Some impressive goalkeepers have been part of an invincibles team, but Buffon had to be in this XI. He has won nine Serie A titles with Juventus, making him one of the most decorated goalkeepers in football history.
LEFT BACK- Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney may have only spent four years at Celtic, but he was hugely adored by the Glaswegian faithful. While there may have been some better left backs that have been involved in an unbeaten campaign, Tierney’s importance to Celtic gets him into this XI.
To be fair, Celtic’s 2016/17 season was one of the most impressive on this list. They won 34 out of their 38 games, and also completed the domestic treble.
At just 19 years old, Tierney played 40 games across all competitions for Celtic in 16/17, and he was instrumental from left back. If any Celtic player was to make it into this XI it was Tierney…
RIGHT BACK- Stephan Lichtsteiner
Another member of Juventus’ incredible defence from 2011/12, Lichtsteiner makes it in at right back.
The Swiss international was an excellent right back in his prime, and his 201 Serie A appearances for Juventus show just how important he was. He won the Scudetto in every single season he spent in Turin, so he is perfect for this XI.
Lichtsteiner constantly provided an energetic outlet down the right hand side, and he certainly played his part in their excellent defence throughout his time at the club.
CENTRE BACK- Paolo Maldini
This is second XI that Maldini has made, and the Milan man was at the heart of their defence when the Rossoneri went unbeaten during the 1991/92 season.
Maldini was still at the beginning of his career during this season, but he was part of an incredible defence including Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta.
Milan relied on being solid defensively during the season and Maldini was the reason Fabio Capello was able to set his team up like this.
CENTRE BACK- Frank De Boer
Not only did Ajax go unbeaten during the 1994-95 season, but they also won the Champions League, and they are the only team in history to complete this feat.
Frank De Boer played at the heart of the defence that dominated European football during this period, and he beats some stiff competition to make in into this XI.
De Boer spent 11 years at Ajax and he won 14 major trophies in Amsterdam, cementing his status as a legend for the club. He is also the second most capped outfield player for the Dutch national team, which just shows how good he was.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Patrick Vieira
Our first player from probably the most famous unbeaten team in football history, Patrick Vieira captained the Arsenal invincibles in 2003/04.
Vieira was a physically imposing midfielder who was able to easily dominate the midfield, even in the most physical league in the world. He was an integral part of the Gunners’ invincible season, without him they wouldn’t have achieved this feat.
He won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal, and he is widely considered to be one of the best midfielder’s of his generation. He had to be in this midfield.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit was part of the ‘Dutch trio’ for the AC Milan invincibles from 1991-92, along with Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten.
Gullit scored seven goals from midfield in Serie A during this season, but it was his overall presence and ability that allowed Milan to dominate Italy. He was one of the worlds best midfielders during this time, and Milan certainly profited from the Dutchman’s quality.
He was able to play in any position in the midfield, so this also made him so important to Fabio Capello.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Frank Rijkaard
Rijkaard could simply not be ignored for this XI. Not only was he part of the Milan team from 1991/92, but he was also part of the Ajax team from 1994/95.
For Milan, Rijkaard played 30 Serie A games in their unbeaten campaign, and it was his job to shield their indomitable defence, a job that he carried out with aplomb.
The 1994-95 season with Ajax was his last as a professional, but he wasn’t there to sit and watch. He played 39 times in all competitions, which allowed him to retire in the best possible way. He should be known as ‘Mr Invincible’.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD- Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp scored just four Premier League goals during the 2003/04 Arsenal invincible season, but this doesn’t mean he had a poor season, far from it.
The Dutchman formed an incredible partnership with Thierry Henry at Highbury, and Bergkamp acted as the brain of the Arsenal attack. His reading of the game was absolutely superb and it allowed him to see passes before anyone else.
He won three Premier League titles with Arsenal, and he was instrumental in each one. Just like Vieira, he was part of the spine of the Arsenal invincibles, and Arsenal fans will go as far to say that he was the best player to ever pull on the famous red jersey.
Choosing two strikers for this XI was a horrible decision to make, and it meant that one of Eusébio, Thierry Henry and Marco Van Basten had to miss out. But for the first choice, it had to be the ‘Black Panther’.
Eusebio’s unbeaten season came in 1972-73, where Benfica competed in possibly the most one sided season ever. The Eagles drew just two of their 30 games, scored 101 goals and conceded just 13!
Eusébio scored 40 goals in the Primeira Divisão in what was to be his penultimate season playing for Benfica. He is certainly one of the best strikers of all time and his overall record for Benfica (317 goals in 301 games) meant I couldn’t ignore him.
STRIKER- Thierry Henry
When talking of the Arsenal invincibles, it is impossible to ignore Thierry Henry. The Frenchman scored 39 goals in all competitions during the 2003/04 season, with 30 coming in the Premier League.
His goalscoring record for that season doesn’t quite match Eusébio, but Henry was simply unplayable for large parts of the campaign. His pace, deadly finishing and creativity made him the most feared striker in Premier League, and possibly one of the best to grace it.
He was named the Ballon D’or runner up in 2003, and he was PFA Players player of the year following the invincibles season.
That’s all for my invincibles XI! Would you have chosen Van Basten?
Would love to hear if there was anyone you would have liked to have seen included!
See you tomorrow!