Where Xavi’s Barcelona rank in the best defences of all time – Chelsea, Liverpool, Atletico…

Cagliari hold the record for the fewest goals conceded in a major European league, but Xavi’s Barcelona are currently on track to break that record in La Liga this season.

In Europe’s top five leagues, Cagliari hold the record for being the best-ever defensive unit. In the 1969-70 season, they only conceded 11 goals in a 30-game season.

That record has stood the test of time as their rate of 0.367 goals against per game is yet to be matched over a full season. Other sides from years gone by have come close, but no one has managed to surpass this impressive record yet.

Liverpool’s 1978-99 team had an excellent record and only conceded 16 goals. That remains the greatest defensive record in the history of Chelsea went close to matching the record in 2004-05 as they conceded just 15 goals under Jose Mourinho that season.

Atletico Madrid are known for their defensive stability under Diego Simeone and they only conceded 18 goals in their 2015-16 campaign. They matched the La Liga record that year for the best-ever defence, which is also held by Deportivo de La Coruna.

However, Barcelona are now projected to beat both the La Liga and European records when it comes to the fewest goals conceded in a season.

Xavi’s side have only conceded nine goals in La Liga so far, at a rate of 0.346 per game. If they manage to maintain that ratio for the rest of the season, they will break the European record.

They have kept 19 clean sheets this season, which is the most in Europe’s top five leagues. Barcelona also boast a 12-point lead at the top of La Liga and are projected to pick up 99 points this season.

Despite their excellent record at the back, Xavi has insisted that his side are one of the most attacking sides in Europe.

“I’ve often heard that we are a defensive team,” Xavi told reporters.

“I find that mind-boggling. We are the most attacking team in Europe, along with Manchester City. We are the most attacking, we take the most risks. We want to win the ball back in the opposition half, we want to have possession.”

We’ve gathered the data and stacked the best-ever defensive sides up against each other. We have included the number of goals conceded per game in brackets.

1. Barcelona 2022-23 – 26 games, 9 goals against (0.346)*
2. Cagliari 1969-70 – 30 games, 11 goals against (0.367)
3. Liverpool 1978-79 – 42 games, 16 goals against (0.381)
4. Chelsea 2004-05 – 38 games, 15 goals against (0.395)
5. Milan 1968-69 – 30 games, 12 goals against (0.400)
6. Milan 1993-94 – 34 games, 15 goals against (0.441)
7. Arsenal 1998-99 – 38 games, 17 goals against (0.447)
8. Milan 1987-88 – 30 games, 14 goals against (0.467)
9. Juventus 1981-82 – 30 games, 14 goals against (0.467)
10. Torino 1976-77 – 30 games, 14 goals against (0.467)
11. Atletico Madrid 2015-16 – 38 games, 18 goals against: (0.474)
12. Deportivo La Coruna 1993-94 – 38 games, 18 goals against (0.474)
13. Arsenal 1990-91 – 38 games, 18 goals against (0.474)

*Season ongoing

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