The Champions League teams with perfect group stage records

UEFA’s desire to evolve the esteemed Champions League means the group stage as we know it will be no more from 2024 and beyond.

The introduction of a Swiss Model will do away with over 30 years of tradition since the competition’s reformation and rebranding.

The group stage was once the final phase before the final itself before the competition’s expansion rendered it a mere footnote before all the knockout stage drama. While a successful group stage is necessary for a club’s chances of Champions League glory, history has told us that a perfect start to the campaign isn’t a prerequisite to lifting the trophy.

Since 1992/93, 13 teams have won all their group stage matches, but only one has gone on to win the competition. Here’s a reminder of those 13 group stage perfectionists.

AC Milan Players forming a wallAC Milan Players forming a wall

The all-conquering Milan reached the inaugural Champions League final / Chris Cole/GettyImages

Milan had established themselves as one of Europe’s supreme forces having lifted the European Cup twice under Arrigo Sacchi. They remained imperious with Fabio Capello at the helm, and they became the first side to win all their Champions League group games during the competition’s debut campaign with this format.

Just eight teams competed in the inaugural group stage as UEFA initially stuck to the ‘champions’ theme. Milan beat Goteborg, PSV Eindhoven, and Porto home and away while only conceding once.

However, a Basile Boli header meant they’d lose to final 1-0 to Marseille.


George Weah was PSG’s marksman in the 1994/95 Champions League campaign / HECTOR MATA/GettyImages

The Champions League had expanded by the time Paris Saint-Germain, inspired by the goals of George Weah, became the second side to go perfect.

There were now 16 teams competing in the group stage, and the French champions were pitted in a tough group alongside Bayern Munich, Spartak Moscow, and Dynamo Kyiv.

Weah’s seven goals came in PSG’s six group games as he struck the decisive blows in victories at home to Dynamo and away at Bayern. However, their journey would end in the semi-finals as they were brushed aside by a ruthlessly efficient Milan outfit.


Spartak beat Blackburn Rovers on their way to a perfect group stage record / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Having felt the wrath of Weah the season prior, the Russian champions then embarked on a memorable group stage campaign of their own in 1995/96.

The seasoned Spartak took advantage of an inexperienced group, twice beating competition debutants Blackburn Rovers. They thumped Rosenborg at home, and edged out two wins over Legia Warsaw.

However, this was not an outstanding side, and they’d lose in the next round to Nantes.

Foot : Fc Barcelona - Cl Brugge / Champ.LeagueFoot : Fc Barcelona - Cl Brugge / Champ.League

Barcelona were eventually beaten in the quarter-finals / Tim de Waele/GettyImages

There have undoubtedly been superior Barcelona sides, but only one has ever won all their Champions League group stage games.

2002/03 saw a fairly mediocre Barca side – they’d finish sixth in La Liga – maintain a 100% record in the first group stage. Barca did benefit from a kind draw as they avoided any notable rivals, but the Spaniards were nonetheless convincing.

They twice overcame Club Brugge, Galatasaray, and Lokomotiv Moscow on their way to perfection, and after sailing through the second group stage, Barca were knocked out by eventual finalists Juventus in the last eight.

Jose MourinhoJose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho guided Real Madrid to a perfect Champions League group stage record in 2011/12 / Jasper Juinen/GettyImages

Real Madrid may be the darlings of the Champions League, but their first perfect group stage didn’t arrive until 2011/12.

This Madrid outfit led by Jose Mourinho is regarded as one of the very best in La Liga history. They usurped the all-conquering Barcelona at the top of Spanish table while amassing a record-breaking 100 points.

Their style was conducive to success in Europe’s premier competition, and their campaign got off to an excellent start. Madrid ended the group stage with a maximum 18 points all while averaging over three goals per game. Lyon, Ajax, and Dinamo Zagreb each didn’t stand a chance.

However, a heartbreaking defeat on penalties in the semi-final to Bayern crushed Mourinho’s dreams of lifting another Champions League trophy.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Schalke vs. Real MadridSoccer - UEFA Champions League - Schalke vs. Real Madrid

The holders were perfect yet again in 2014/15 / sampics/GettyImages

Having captured La Decima in dramatic fashion the season prior, Madrid started their first Champions League title defence in over a decade with a swagger.

The Spanish giants secured slender victories over Basel and Ludogorets away from home, but they emphatically beat Liverpool at Anfield and conceded just once at the Bernabeu.

Thomas Muller, Philippe Coutinho, Alphonso DaviesThomas Muller, Philippe Coutinho, Alphonso Davies

Bayern Munich twice beat Tottenham on their way to perfection / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Bayern have been utterly dominant in the Champions League group stages as of late, with their reign of terror beginning just before the Covid pandemic.

Niko Kovac was still in charge when the Germans subjected Tottenham to a 7-2 beatdown in front of their own fans, and they beat the Lilywhites 3-1 in Munich to round off their perfect group stage.

The Rekordmeister also scored wins against Red Star Belgrade and Olympiacos before eventually lifting the trophy the following summer in Lisbon under Hansi Flick.

They are the only perfect group-stage team to win the competition.

Sebastien Haller, Daley Blind, Noussair MazraouiSebastien Haller, Daley Blind, Noussair Mazraoui

Ajax dominated their group in 2021/22 under Erik ten Hag / BSR Agency/GettyImages

The one-time winners have plenty of Champions League pedigree, and are so often drawn in pot 1, but only once have they enjoyed the perfect group stage.

This arrived after Erik ten Hag had guided a scintillating side to the semi-finals in 2018/19. This was his last Ajax team; one that didn’t quite boast the talent of the aforementioned iteration.

Nevertheless, the Dutch side, buoyed by Sebastian Haller’s goalscoring touch, dominated a group that contained Sporting CP, Erling Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund, and Besiktas.

However, there was no deep journey to be enjoyed on this occasion as they were beaten by Benfica in the round of 16.

Thiago AlcantaraThiago Alcantara

Liverpool would eventually lose in the final to Real Madrid / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Liverpool would knock Ajax’s slayers Benfica out in the quarter-finals on their way to the competition’s showpiece event in Paris.

Before that, though, the Reds, who’d established themselves as a major force under Jurgen Klopp, enjoyed their most successful group stage with the German at the helm.

This was a tightly-packed group on paper, but the Premier League side proved a class above Atletico Madrid, eventual Scudetto winners Milan, and Porto. Klopp’s men did win a couple of crazy encounters, including their 3-2 victories at home to Milan and in Madrid.

Liverpool would lose the final to Real Madrid.

Tomasz KedzioraTomasz Kedziora

Bayern made light work of their group as the holders / BSR Agency/GettyImages

The third team to garner maximum points in 2021/22 was, of course, Bayern.

Bayern were pitted against Barcelona in Group E, but the Catalonians would eventually finish third in the group behind Benfica. The Bundesliga side were outstanding, scoring a whopping 22 goals.

They twice beat Barca 3-0, thrashed Benfica 4-0 away from home, and battered Dynamo Kyiv 5-0 in Munich. Die Roten looked set for a deep run, but they were stunned in the quarter-finals by Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

Benjamin Pavard, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, Dayot Upamecano, Noussair Mazrazoui, Marcel Sabitzer, Josip StanisicBenjamin Pavard, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, Dayot Upamecano, Noussair Mazrazoui, Marcel Sabitzer, Josip Stanisic

Bayern impressively won all their games in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

This has to be regarded as one of the most impressive group-stage campaigns ever. While many tipped Bayern to win the so-called ‘Group of Death’ very few expected such a procession.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side beat Barcelona and Inter to top spot while averaging three goals per game and conceding just twice.

The only goals they conceded came in a 4-2 away win against minnows Viktoria Plzen. Their results against eventual finalists Inter and eventual La Liga champions Barca read: 2-0, 2-0, 2-0, 3-0. Dominant (until they met treble-winners Manchester City).

Jude BellinghamJude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham ran the show for Real Madrid / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Real Madrid will have been very content with the draw in 2023/24 that gave them a Napoli side that is not as formidable as the one that won Serie A in 2022/23, Braga, and newcomers Union Berlin who have also regressed from 22/23.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side did not start smoothly though as they needed a 94th-minute Jude Bellingham winner to beat Union Berlin 1-0 in the first game. That was followed by a dramatic but deserved 3-2 win in Naples, before a narrow 2-1 win over Braga in Portugal. They were not steamrolling the opposition, but they were winning.

Things got smoother, as they beat Braga 3-0 at the Bernabeu and then beat Napoli 4-2. There was just one game to go, against already eliminated Union Berlin, but they still needed a late Dani Ceballos goal to win 3-2.

It certainly wasn’t their smoothest run to six wins in a Champions League group stage, but they did it for the third time which takes them level with Bayern Munich.

FK Crvena Zvezda v Manchester City: Group G - UEFA Champions League 2023/24FK Crvena Zvezda v Manchester City: Group G - UEFA Champions League 2023/24

Man City made light work of their group / Filip Filipovic/GettyImages

Manchester City may have become masters of getting out of the Champions League group stage, but this is the first time they have won all six matches.

Given the group contained Red Star Belgrade, Young Boys and RB Leipzig, there was always a chance that they would secure 18 points, given they were now the holders.

Things began in a predictable manner as they beat all three teams by a 3-1 scoreline to begin with. They then beat Young Boys again, this time 3-0, but the final two games were a little more complicated now that they were already through.

Pep Guardiola’s side went 2-0 down at home to Leipzig, but goals from Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez ensured a 3-2 win.

The final game in Serbia saw Guardiola give minutes to many youngsters, and Micah Hamilton and Oscar Bobb made it 2-0 to Man City. Red Star would pull one back before a Kalvin Phillips penalty made it 3-1. A late consolation meant it ended 3-2 but Man City had got their 100% record.


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