With Xavi departing, I wonder who'll be captain of the squad next campaign? He's not from La Masia but I'd vote for Masch with the vice captain/consigliere going to Don Iniesta... Xavi endorsed Sergio...
Congrats to Don Iniesta on the birth of his son. Must be even more happy/grateful in light of he & his wife losing a baby when she was pregnant.
Great post from espnfc.com on the 7 treble winning teams. Great juxtaposition of the various teams in lieu of Barca & Juve on the cusp of a treble too...
Champions League treble: The seven clubs who claimed the prize
On Saturday, both Barcelona and Juventus will be aiming to complete the eighth treble in European club football history. Here's a look at the previous seven...
The first European Cup won by a British side was secured by a team of players all born within 30 miles of Celtic Park, but it's often forgotten that this was not the only trophy lifted by Jock Stein's side in 1966-67. In fact, while the qualifying factor for a "real" treble is the domestic league, main domestic cup and the European Cup, just to be on the safe side Celtic won absolutely everything they competed in that year, including the Scottish League Cup and the Glasgow Cup. They played 62 games in five competitions, losing just three of them and scoring an utterly absurd 196 goals in the process.
Of the three big trophies, the Scottish Cup was the first to be secured as they beat Aberdeen 2-0 at Hampden Park, the goals coming either side of half-time from Willie Wallace. Then came the league, in which Rangers challenged them until the penultimate game of the campaign. That game, at Ibrox, saw Celtic needing just a point to claim the title and a brace from Jimmy Johnstone sealed a 2-2 draw.
And then Lisbon. Internazionale were a fearsome machine, having won the European Cup in both 1964 and 1965 under Helenio Herrera, but Celtic beat them, coming back from a goal down to seal the 2-1 victory. Tommy Gemmell got the first with a rocket from outside the area, then Stevie Chalmers turned in the winner, seven minutes from time. "Winning the European Cup was the making of the club," winger Bobby Lennox told FourFourTwo a few years ago. "After that everyone knew about Celtic. We even beat Real Madrid two weeks later. They'd won it the previous year and they kept saying they were the real champions, but we went and beat them 1-0 on their own patch in front of 135,000 people."
The aesthetes' choice, Ajax's European Cup win in 1972 was the middle of three in a row for the brilliant "Total Football" side of the early 1970s, built by Rinus Michels and led by Johan Cruyff. Michels actually left halfway through the season in late 1971 to manage Barcelona, so it was left to Stefan Kovacs to build on the work done by his great predecessor.
In 1971, Ajax won the European Cup and the KNVB Cup, but finished second in the league to Feyenoord. The next year no such mistakes were made, and they lost just one game in the league, finishing a whopping (in the days of two points for a win) eight points ahead of Feyenoord, before securing the cup by edging FC Den Haag (now ADO Den Haag) out 3-2 in the final.
Then the big one. After sweeping Marseille, Arsenal and Benfica aside, they faced Inter in Rotterdam. Ajax dominated the game; a defensive Inter side unable to hold back the likes of Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Piet Keizer. It was Cruyff who scored the goals, one just after the break and the second 12 minutes from the end, to secure the game and Ajax's treble. For good measure, they won the Intercontinental Cup later that year too, beating Independiente of Argentina over two legs.
Before taking over at PSV in March 1987, Guus Hiddink had never managed before (although he was PSV assistant to Jan Reker for four years), but he made the whole affair look implausibly easy, bagging a treble in his very first full season. What's more remarkable is that PSV achieved this remarkable feat having sold star midfielder Ruud Gullit, who had left for AC Milan after a disagreement with the club's hierarchy the previous summer.
The Eredivisie title was signed, sealed and delivered with barely a bead of sweat breaking on their collective brows, losing just twice and winning with four games to spare -- nine points ahead of Ajax. They scored a remarkable 117 goals in the process: nine in a single game on two occasions, seven once and six five times.
The cup was slightly more of a struggle, PSV requiring extra-time to beat Roda JC, with Soren Lerby scoring the decisive goal in a 3-2 win. However, while they had been dominant domestically, their European campaign was a harder task. Indeed, remarkable as it might seem, the 2-0 win over Austria Wien in the second round was the last game they actually won in a conventional manner, reaching the final by beating Bordeaux and Real Madrid with 1-1 draws in the away leg of both quarter and semifinals, before drawing 0-0 in the second match.
They played Benfica in the final, but 120 minutes of play could not split the sides, and penalties ensued. Both sides scored their initial five; Anton Janssen converted the first sudden death effort for PSV before Antonio Veloso had his effort saved by Hans van Breukelen. Five of the PSV side -- Van Breukelen, Ronald Koeman, Wim Kieft, Berry van Aerle and Gerald Vanenburg -- would go on to help Netherlands to win Euro '88 that summer, their first and only international tournament success to date.
Manchester United, 1999
The most remarkable of the many remarkable things about Manchester United's treble in 1999, the finest achievement by any English club side, is that on so many occasions it very nearly didn't happen. They were behind on the closing day of the league season, when a defeat would have cost them the Premiership title; they were a Dennis Bergkamp penalty away from losing in the semifinal of the FA Cup; and then of course there's the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
"I was just starting to adjust to losing the game," Sir Alex Ferguson said of the final, which saw United 1-0 behind as injury-time approached. "I had reminded myself to keep my dignity and accept that it wasn't going to be our year. What then happened simply stunned me."
It stunned pretty much everyone else, too. United secured the league title with that final day win over Tottenham, goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole securing the victory required to win the prize by a single point from Arsenal.
Then came the FA Cup final, which was a slightly curious non-event given the limp challenge offered by opponents Newcastle, and the resting of a few players for the clash with Bayern in the Camp Nou a few days later.
And then the Barcelona final. What makes this perhaps the finest treble is the manner in which it was won; not the most dominant, nor probably the best team, but by some distance the most dramatic. Goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in injury-time -- after Bayern had led via a Mario Basler free kick since the sixth minute -- secured the treble in the most extraordinary manner. "I can't believe it," said then UEFA president Lennart Johansson, who had left his seat in the stands with United 1-0 down and arrived pitchside to present the trophy to them after the 2-1 victory. "The winners are crying and the losers are dancing."
Looking back, appointing Pep Guardiola as Barcelona manager was a relatively ridiculous decision. This was, after all, not just a man who had never managed a senior team being put in charge of one of the biggest clubs in world football, but also a club that needed something of a revamp after the last days of Frank Rijkaard. But Guardiola made a mockery of sense and logic by casually winning the treble in his first season in charge, and building arguably the greatest club side Europe has ever seen.
The season was marked out by significant victories: from the 6-2 demolition of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the closing weeks of the league season, to Andres Iniesta's injury-time winner in the Champions League semifinal against Chelsea, to the final itself.
The Copa del Rey was the first title, Barca storming back from a goal down against Athletic Bilbao with four in just over half an hour to win 4-1. La Liga was next, won by nine clear points, technically sealed after Villarreal beat Real in May but really secured when braces from Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry eviscerated and demoralised their great rivals 6-2 at the Bernabeu earlier in the month.
And then the Champions League, sealed in Rome against Manchester United, with Samuel Eto'o and Messi netting in a 2-0 win that was one of the most dominant in recent memory. "We are not the best team in history," said Guardiola. "But we have played the best season in history to win the three titles."
Inter Milan, 2010
If Jose Mourinho ever lifts the Champions League with Chelsea, he'll become the first manager to win the Champions League/European Cup in three different countries. In 2010 he achieved another first, specifically becoming the first Italian team to win a treble, doing so with an Inter side built entirely in his image.
Mourinho was hired to replace Roberto Mancini, with the key directive of improving Inter's performance in Europe, something he of course did with some gusto. Indeed, this was a season characterised not only by Inter's own excellence, but by their frustration of basically everyone around them (and not just through Mourinho's antics), denying a couple of teams their own moments of glory.
Serie A was won by just two points, Inter securing the title and holding off Roma with a 1-0 victory over Siena on the final day, the goal scored by Diego Milito, which came a couple of weeks after they had beaten the same opponents in the Coppa Italia final, again via a 1-0 victory thanks to Milito.
After parking the bus to ensure his 10-men overcame Barcelona in the semi, Mourinho then relied on Milito to score both in the 2-0 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich, who were themselves chasing their country's first treble. It was Mourinho's last game, leaving Inter for Real Madrid with the words: "I want to become the only coach to win the Champions League with three different clubs. I'm not leaving Inter, I'm leaving Italy."
Bayern Munich, 2013
There are good ways to go out, there are great ways to go out, and then there's the Jupp Heynckes way to go out. The German had already won the Champions League in his final game at Real Madrid in 1998 before they sacked him, in the way that only Real can, for a disappointing domestic showing.
However, he topped that achievement at Bayern Munich, polishing off the first treble in German history in not only his final game with the Bavarians, but his final game as a manager altogether. "I had a worthy farewell," he said after his retirement, with considerable understatement.
Bayern won the Bundesliga by the utterly absurd margin of 25 points from Borussia Dortmund -- who let's not forget were the defending champions -- losing only one game in the process and drawing a mere four. The title was officially wrapped up with a record-breaking six games to spare in early April, Bastian Schweinsteiger confirming glory with a backheel to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0.
The whole season seemed to be a continued attack on Dortmund (they beat them in the Super Cup too), as Bayern eliminated Jurgen Klopp's side on the way to the DFB Pokal final, which unusually was the last leg in the treble -- the final in early June against Stuttgart where Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller scored the goals in a 3-2 win.
Before that was the big one, as Bayern overcame Dortmund once again at Wembley in the Champions League final, which they reached by obliterating Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinal. Arjen Robben was the scorer of the decisive goal, securing the 2-1 victory and Bayern's fifth European Cup with just a minute left of the game. "I don't think any team has played such a consistent season at such a high level," said Heynckes after the game, and while one can debate which treble-winning side was the best, there can be little doubt over which one was the most dominant.