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By Jonathan Lewis | 24th May 2023
Throughout the last decade or so, the wind has changed direction drastically in the city of Manchester. Prior to 2008, there was one dominant club in the Northwestern English city, Manchester United. But in 2023, their rivals have passed them by, and by some distance.
Courtesy of Nottingham Forest’s shock victory over Arsenal at the City Ground on May 20th ensured that the Premier League title race is officially over. Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half strike ensured that the Tricky Trees would remain in the topflight next season, while also handing a third consecutive English title to the Etihad Stadium, their fifth in six years. But that could just be the first trophy of a historic season for the Citizens.
Manchester City on the Brink of History
At the start of April, it looked as though the title may well slip away from Manchester City. Arsenal’s young Gunners were a whopping eight points clear, and it seemed like a first crown in almost two decades would head to the Emirates Stadium. However, a disastrous run of form since has seen the title head north, and with two cup finals on the horizon, the Etihad Club now finds itself on the brink of history.
Just a matter of weeks ago, Bovada, where you can visit the sportsbook to follow odds on football, basketball, tennis, and a plethora of other sports, had priced Pep’s Blues at 11/10 (+110) to complete the treble this season. With one title in the bag, those odds will now have drastically reduced in size, and should they pick up victories against Manchester United in the FA Cup final and Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, this City team will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time.
There is only one team in the history of English football that has ever completed the treble in years gone by, so it is there where we will start. Here are the most recent trebles from each of Europe’s top four leagues.
England: Manchester United – 1998/99
“Late in May in 1999, Ole scored a goal in injury time, what a feeling, what a night.” That’s how the song goes on the Old Trafford terraces, referring to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s last-gasp winner against Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, which had perhaps the most shocking finale of all time. With the Bavarians leading by a solitary goal to zero as the game ticked into injury time, two goals from Teddy Sheringham and the Solskjær ensured that the European Cup headed to Manchester for the first time in over three decades.
And that trophy was the third piece of silverware in a golden week, and season, for the Red Devils. On May 16th, they came from behind to beat Spurs on the final day of the Premier League season courtesy of goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole, ensuring that the title headed to Old Trafford at the expense of Arsenal, who finished a point behind their rivals. On May 22nd, they then defeated Newcastle United at Wembley to secure the FA Cup before defeating the German champions in the Nou Camp four days later.
United very nearly secured another treble in 2009, however, they were defeated by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final. Special mention also needs to go to Liverpool. They secured a treble of sorts in 2001, winning the FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup with a strike force of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey leading them to glory.
Italy: Inter Milan – 2009/10
This year’s UEFA Champions League finalists Inter Milan were the last, and only team, to complete the treble in Italy. Under Jose Mourinho, the Nerazzurri managed to secure the Scudetto, as well as the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League. And it was the latter of those successes which was perhaps the most impressive.
The Italian outfit met reigning champions and overwhelming favorites for glory Barcelona in the semifinals. They managed to secure a 3-1 victory in the first leg in the San Siro thanks to goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon, and Diego Milito before defensive heroics in the return leg secured a 3-2 aggregate victory. They would then meet and defeat Bayern Munich in the Santiago Bernabeu showpiece courtesy of a brace from Argentinian hitman Milito.
Spain: FC Barcelona – 2014/15
Only one team in Spanish football history has completed the treble and that is of course FC Barcelona, and they did it twice in six years. Their most recent success came in 2015 under the stewardship of Luis Enrique. They finished two points clear of Real Madrid in La Liga, defeated Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to lift the Copa Del Rey, and then halted Juventus’ pursuit of a treble of their own with another 3-1 victory, this time in the Champions League final in Berlin.
Germany: Bayern Munich – 2019/20
As is the case in Spain, Bayern Munich are the only team to complete the treble in Germany, and they have done so on two separate occasions. Their first came under Jupp Heynckes in 2013 which ended Borussia Dortmund’s two-year stranglehold in German football. Their second would come seven years later.
In Hansi Flick’s maiden season in charge, the Bavarians managed to charge away from Die Schwartzgelben in the latter stages of the Bundesliga season to lift the Meisterschale. They then defeated Bayern Leverkusen in Berlin to lift the DFB-Pokal. A stunning 8-2 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals set up a final against French champions Paris Saint-Germain, where Kingsley Coman would score the only goal of the game to take the famous ‘Big Eared’ trophy back to the Allianz Arena.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer