Manchester City join Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, PSV, Ajax, Celtic and Inter as the only treble winners across Europe; of the nine trebles in history, five have come since 2009
Man City have become just the eighth European club to win a continental treble by beating Inter Milan. What kind of company are they keeping?
Barcelona and Bayern Munich both won their first trebles this century but each have since gone onto repeat the feat more recently, contributing to the fact that five of the nine clean sweeps across the continent have come since 2009.
Prior to that, Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous Manchester United side of 1999 had been the only team since Guus Hiddink’s PSV some 11 years earlier to have won all three trophies in the same season.
Here’s the full roll call of teams Manchester City have joined – and how those previous history makers managed it.
2012/13 and 2019/20 – Bayern Munich
When Hansi Flick took over Bayern Munich in November 2019 he inherited an ailing team who had underperformed under Niko Kovac, his former boss. Less than a year later, he had won everything with them. Nineteen wins and a draw from their final 20 Bundesliga matches marked an astonishing run of domestic form to win the league at a canter, and they made light work of Europe too.
Robert Lewandowski plundered 55 goals by the end of the campaign, but it was Kingsley Coman who eventually saw them to victory on the continent to seal the treble with a 1-0 win over PSG, rounding off a season where they won all 11 of their Champions League games en route to the trophy.
That emulated the historic Jupp Heynckes’ side of seven years earlier, the first in German history to achieve the feat. It included some of the club’s most famous players of recent years, including Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos and Franck Ribery.
Heynckes’ side led the Bundesliga every single match day and little surprise, given their 91-point season broke the German top-flight record and still stands today. Europe proved a trickier test, winning their group only on goal difference from Valencia and needing away goals to beat Arsenal in the last 16. Beyond that, things got much easier, seeing off Juventus 4-0 on aggregate and thrashing Barcelona 7-0 over two legs, before edging out Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund in the only all-German Champions League final in history at Wembley.
2009/10 – Inter Milan
Jose Mourinho’s Inter hold the impressive record, considering their country’s proud footballing history, of being Italy’s only treble holders, and a major summer transfer from Pep Guardiola’s victorious Barcelona the year before played a huge part.
The strike partnership of Samuel Eto’o – swapped with Barca for Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and Diego Milito fired Inter to glory in Europe. No Mourinho side would be complete without a strong defence, and the Brazilian duo of Julio Cesar in goal and Lucio at centre-back provided just that.
The semi-finals can often be the real defining moment for any Champions League-winning side and so it proved again, with Mourinho seeing off rival Guardiola and his Barcelona side 3-2 on aggregate before a 2-0 win over Bayern in the final.
2008/09 and 2014/15 – Barcelona
What a way Guardiola chose to announce himself to the world of football management with his first of what are now two trebles. After a solitary year managing their B team, the former Barca midfielder stepped up to the top job and took LaLiga and Europe by storm.
With the midfield trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets emerging and Lionel Messi at the peak of his powers, they swept to the title and went unbeaten in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, with a goal in each half from Samuel Eto’o and Messi enough to beat Man Utd in Italy in the 2008/09 final.
The 2014/15 iteration did not have quite the same pizzazz as Guardiola’s side but Luis Enrique’s MSN trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar weren’t far off, and scored 122 goals between them in all competitions.
After wrestling top spot in LaLiga from Real Madrid in February they won 12 of their last 14 games to win the title by two points, with their highlight in Europe a stunning 5-3 aggregate win over Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in the semi-finals before beating Juventus with relative ease in the Berlin final.
No Real Madrid?
Somehow, Real Madrid have never managed a continental treble.
Real have completed the double six times but have never come as close to managing the full set as in 1958, when they picked up the European Cup and LaLiga trophies but were beaten in the final of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao.
1998/99 – Manchester United
Ferguson’s side stood unrivalled in English history as the only side to have lifted all three trophies in the same season until this weekend, and in uniquely dramatic fashion. Going into injury time of their Champions League final with Bayern Munich, their final game of the season, it looked as though they would miss out on the set thanks to Mario Basler’s sixth-minute goal. But then, up stepped Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and you know what happened next.
The Norwegian’s winner has gone down in United and English football folklore, but there were plenty more moments like that across the season – including United’s comeback from 3-1 down on aggregate to Juventus in the final hour of the second leg of the Champions League semi-final and in the FA Cup too, when Dennis Bergkamp’s late missed penalty prevented Arsenal reaching the final at their expense.
1987/88 – PSV
Though PSV winning the European Cup seemed a once-in-a-generation moment, there was no fluke to a young Hiddink’s achievements with a band of players including a number who would go on to lift the European Championship with the Netherlands later that summer.
In the league, they racked up 117 goals but in Europe they were built from the back, and they did not win a game inside 90 minutes beyond the second round.
Ronald Koeman was the enduring household name but goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen and captain Eric Gerets were just as instrumental in defence while further forward 37-year-old Willy van der Kerkhof still featured intermittently a decade after helping ‘total football’ Netherlands reach the 1978 World Cup final.
1971/72 – Ajax
At one stage, the Dutch were the treble kings of Europe with PSV’s success adding to Ajax’s all-conquering 1972 side. The somehow went one better than they had done the previous year, under legendary former boss Rinus Michels, with Stefan Kovacs leading them to glory on all fronts.
Michels had brought total football to Amsterdam and he left Kovacs a side braced for success. He took over a team who were already European champions after beating Panathinaikos in the 1971 final.
They won 26 of their 27 final league games and though they needed extra time to beat Den Haag in the KNVB Cup final, there were no such problems in Europe with a 2-0 win over Inter in the European Cup final – with who else but Johan Cruyff the scorer of both goals – enough to round off what remains easily their greatest ever campaign.
1966/67 – Celtic
Legendary status does not seem a term high enough for Jock Stein, whose Celtic side of 1967 won not just the continental treble but a quadruple, as the Scottish League Cup also headed back to Parkhead.
They lost only twice in the league all season and earned an Old Firm win over Rangers in the League Cup final, before the so-termed ‘Lisbon Lions’ wrote themselves into eternal Celtic history against Inter in the European Cup final in Portugal.
Stevie Chalmers’ goal earned a 2-1 win at the Estadio Nacional as Celtic became not only the first, to this day only, Scottish European Cup winners – and won everything else in sight too.