Eleven goals for and none against. It’s been a remarkable start to the season for FC Barcelona, and it’s not just been about scoring goals but also stopping them at the other end. Since blowing Elche away to the tune of a 4-0 win, Barça have gone on to complete three further shutouts.
It all amounts to a historic situation. Barça have never come this far in a league season before without either dropping a point or conceding a goal.
It’s not unusual for them to win their four opening fixtures. They first time did that was way back in 1929/30, and they repeated the feat in 1960/61, 1972/73, 1984/85, 1990/91, 1997/98 and 2009/10, before doing it a remarkable three years in a row in 2012/13, 2013/14 and now 2014/15. That’s ten editions in total in which Barça have taken all twelve points from their first four matches (or eight as it was in the days of two points for a win).
In 1960/61 Barça had a 9-1 goal difference at this stage of the competition, and in 1984/85 the balance was 10-1. The highest goal difference after four games was 13-2 in 1929/30 until that +11 ratio was equalled in 2009/10 (14-3). Rinus Michels led Barça to their best ever start ever in terms of clean sheets, when Barça went for six games in 1977/78 without conceding a goal, but those matches included 0-0 draws.
The Barça keeper who has got the furthest into a season without leaking a goal is Pedro María Artola, who lasted for 560 minutes in 1977/78 (six games and twenty minutes). In the 1968/69 season, the legendary Salvador Sadurní went unbeaten for four matches, but let one in after 53 minutes of game five to total 413 minutes without picking the ball out of the back of the net.
Chile’s Claudio Bravo has kept goal for every game so far in the present campaign and has already amassed 360 minutes without conceding. But he’ll need to survive another 200 if he’s going to beat Artola.