Pep Guardiola is a tough man to learn. The Manchester Metropolis supervisor can usually betray a way of false modesty, suggesting that unimaginable achievements are past his workforce earlier than watching his gamers do what he had initially mentioned can be unimaginable. Final season’s treble success was a main instance of that.
Maybe Guardiola is just adopting the identical outdated “thoughts video games” that almost all profitable bosses deploy in an try to ease the strain on their groups and dial down ranges of expectation. However when a prime supervisor performs down the possibilities of profitable, no one fairly believes them.
But with Metropolis resuming the defence of their Champions League title once they face FC Copenhagen in Denmark on Tuesday within the Spherical of 16 first leg, Guardiola has emphatically dominated out the prospect of the Premier League champions repeating final yr’s treble triumph.
“It is a fairytale, it is extra sophisticated than that,” he mentioned final week. “We have now a 99.99% chance that we’re not going to win the treble as a result of by no means, by no means, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever has anybody achieved it. If it was straightforward, one other workforce — Manchester United in that point — would do it once more. It isn’t straightforward. The whole lot is so tough on this enterprise, what we did previously would not assure something.”
False modesty once more or a case of Guardiola giving everybody linked with Metropolis a chilly dose of actuality?
The reality is that Guardiola is likely to be proper. Because the begin of the Champions League period in 1992, seven groups, together with Metropolis, have achieved the treble of home league, home cup and Champions League. Thus far, none of them have backed it up by repeating the feat 12 months later.
In 1999-2000, Sir Alex Ferguson’s treble winners at Manchester United defended the Premier League title, however they have been eradicated on the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League by Actual Madrid. That season, United have been unable to defend the FA Cup after withdrawing from the competitors to participate within the FIFA Membership World Cup in Brazil.
Ten years later, Guardiola’s Barcelona received only one competitors — LaLiga — after doing the treble in 2008-09, whereas Serie A champions Inter Milan adopted up their treble in 2009-10 by profitable solely the Coppa Italia the next season.
German giants Bayern Munich did the treble in 2012-13 and 2019-20, however achieved a home double in 2013-14 and received solely the Bundesliga in 2020-21, whereas Luis Enrique’s Barcelona received LaLiga and Copa del Rey in 2015-16 however have been knocked out of the Champions League on the quarterfinal stage to finish hopes of back-to-back trebles.
However whereas historical past would not favour Metropolis of their quest to develop into the primary workforce to do a treble in successive seasons, they’ve one benefit that none of their six predecessors had within the Champions League: no rising workforce appears to be like set to assert their throne.
Vicente del Bosque’s nice Actual Madrid workforce, which received two Champions Leagues in three seasons, ended United’s hopes in 2000; Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter facet eradicated Barcelona in 2010; Bayern have been ousted by Carlo Ancelotti’s Actual Madrid in 2014; Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid accounted for Barcelona in 2016 earlier than dropping to Actual within the last.
In 2021, Bayern’s defence of their European crown ended towards Paris Saint-Germain within the quarterfinals. That yr, when Chelsea received the title, is probably the one instance of a treble winner falling brief in a comparatively weak area. They’re normally taken out by a formidable opponent.
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However it’s arduous to establish such a menace to Metropolis on this season’s competitors. Bayern are struggling domestically underneath Thomas Tuchel, with Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen elevating the true prospect of Bayern failing to win the Bundesliga for the primary time since 2011, whereas PSG are a declining pressure within the Champions League following the current departures of Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Barcelona are treading water in LaLiga, Italian champions Napoli are mid-table in Serie A, whereas neither Borussia Dortmund or Atletico Madrid look set to emerge as shock winners. Arsenal have but to persuade that they’ve the consistency and expertise to win the Champions League for the primary time and whereas Inter are wanting robust on the prime of Serie A, Metropolis would don’t have any fears towards the Nerrazzurri in the event that they have been to satisfy, having crushed Simone Inzaghi’s facet in final season’s last in Istanbul.
That leaves Actual as Metropolis’s greatest menace, however regardless that midfielder Jude Bellingham — anticipated to be sidelined till March with an ankle harm — has been excellent this season, LaLiga’s leaders nonetheless look wanting a confirmed objective scorer following Karim Benzema‘s transfer to Al Ittihad final summer season. And Metropolis blew Actual away 5-1 on combination in final season’s semifinal, so Guardiola is not going to be fazed by a conflict towards Ancelotti’s workforce.
The workforce that Metropolis worry most — Liverpool — aren’t even on this season’s Champions League, so the trail to glory within the competitors seems greater than navigable. However the Champions League is just one a part of the treble. Liverpool nonetheless stand in Metropolis’s manner within the Premier League and FA Cup, so possibly Guardiola is correct to minimize his workforce’s treble probabilities.
The Champions League is likely to be the best one to win, however regardless that Metropolis are the workforce to beat in all the things, their home problem is more likely to be the hardest and the one which is able to finally carry them down and show Guardiola proper to be pessimistic.