Manchester City is in the midst of one of the greatest starts to a English Premier League season in its history. They have ripped off 18 consecutive wins in England’s top league, a record winning streak and one that is only one game behind Europe’s longest run of 19 by Bayern Munich, who plays in a very top heavy league in Germany’s Bundesliga.
City currently sits at 19-1-0, are already 13 points ahead of second place Chelsea in the EPL standings and have an absurd goal differential of +49. Based on their current run, it seems it’s a matter of when, not if, City hoists the title at the end of the season.
They are in pursuit of the best season in EPL history, which was Chelsea’s 2004-05 season of 95 total points. They could also crush the previous point total over second place, which the 2000 Manchester United team holds at 18 points, and could join a list of only two teams to finish a full season without a loss.
Amazingly, the only points City did not secure came in a draw to Everton in which they played a majority of the match with 10 men. Even at a disadvantage they could not be defeated.
Even more amazingly, manager Pep Guardiola was the head man for Bayern in 2014, when they won the Bundesliga with the aforementioned 19-game match win streak, something never before achieved in Europe’s five major leagues [EPL, La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), Bundesliga, Seria A (Italy)].
According to USA Today, key to the run has been midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who has been lights out for the top team this season.
Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder.
He has provided many of this season’s wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October
Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it’s more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards.
No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract.
Having said of all that, you might be shocked to learn City is not the only team in the world with a winning streak as long as theirs. In fact, said team has a longer win streak.
Lanexang United, a team in Laos’ top league, and who has the coolest nickname ever with The Power of a Million Elephants, is currently on a run of 19 consecutive victories dating back to last May that saw them win the 2016 Lao Premier League and qualify for the 2017 AFC Cup — Asia’s version of the UEFA Europa League.
The club based in the capital Veintiane, nicknamed after an army of the world’s largest land mammals, embarked on their winning streak between May and October of 2016 under Brazilian coach Leonardo Vitorino. They would finish the season on 73 points out of a possible 78, with just one defeat, and a plus-78 goal difference.
“Just like Manchester City, we wore blue, were known as the big spenders of the league, and had quick wingers like Raheem Sterling, and technical strikers like Sergio Aguero,” Lanexang United’s former general manager Kaz Patafta told ESPN FC.
“We spent a lot of money, were the only club in Laos to have their own stadium, and were investing in a youth academy. I guess you could say we were a little like Man City, but on a much smaller scale.”
Lanexang United’s achievement even drew praise from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who wrote a personal letter of congratulation to the club, hailing the “dynamism and commitment” in winning the title.
Unfortunately, Lanexang is currently unable to add to their winning streak due to corruption and a match-fixing scandal that swept through their league.
They seemed on the verge of greatness across Asia before disaster struck after the draw for the 2017 AFC Cup, meaning they wouldn’t be able to add to their active streak of 19 consecutive victories.
The nation of Laos was caught up in a match-fixing scandal. While none of their players were implicated, Lanexang United made the decision to withdraw from national and regional competitions with immediate effect.
In February 2017, the Asian Football Confederation handed out life bans to 22 players from Laos and neighboring Cambodia for corruption. Fifteen of the 22 were former players of Lao Toyota, the 2015 Laos champions.
“We had a zero tolerance at our club towards corruption, but even so, it was not feasible to continue in 2017, even after our winning streak the previous season,” Patafta said. “Apart from the corruption problem, it was also hard to commercially sustain our club without the full support of the Lao Football Federation.”
For now, The Power of a Million Elephants will have to sit in limbo, waiting for the opportunity to chase the longest winning streak in soccer history, which is 29.
Australian-born to a Lao mother and Croatian father, Patafta is a former Melbourne Victory midfielder and ex-Young Socceroos’ captain. A former Benfica youth player, he crossed paths with Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva at the Portuguese giants, and hopes that the Premier League leaders can equal their 19-match mark by winning at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
“To even be mentioned in same breath as Manchester City is a huge compliment. Like them, we put a lot of work into our streak, and we are very proud of it. It would be good to see Man City reach and surpass our milestone, as it would be a huge, and well-deserved achievement,” he said.
“But technically, Lanexang United still exists, so there is always the possibility of one day adding to our 19-game league winning streak.”
According to UEFA, the longest-ever league winning streak in European football is 29 games, set by Patafta’s old club Benfica, between 1971 and 1973.
It is very possible that Manchester City will eventually take the top spot for the longest active win streak in the world. For now, Lanexang United can take pride in their accomplishment and hope to begin their quest for 29 wins soon.