The ultimate triumph for a football club is winning what is known as the 'treble'. This consists of a team winning their domestic league, domestic cup, and the European Cup all in a single season. A rare and demanding challenge, this feat has only been reached nine times by seven clubs, with Bayern Munich and Barcelona achieving this ultimate success twice.
It takes a great amount of skill, determination, along with a bit of luck to manage a domestic knockout run and a tournament against the very best teams across Europe, either side of a lengthy league campaign. The squads and managers who win a treble are eternally cemented into the history books, and as the 2022-2023 season is closing, Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City squad are pushing to join the elite status and be the eighth club to achieve it.
The only English side to win the treble is City's local rivals Manchester United, who in 1999 emphatically finished a successful Premier League and FA Cup campaign with a dramatic 3-2 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich. United scored two goals in injury time, with substitute Sheringham equalising for the red devils before Ole Solskjaer scored the winner with less than a minute left on the clock.
Manchester City has been the most successful team in England since 2010 and has looked the most likely to repeat what United managed. In this time, they have won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and six League Cups. Guardiola has personally overseen four of City's Premier League titles and League Cups and one of the FA Cups in the six years he has managed the club.
In the 2018/2019 season, City became the first senior team in England to win the domestic treble, something Sir Alex Ferguson labelled "impossible."
The only trophy, however, that has eluded this remarkable side is the Champions League. City came close in 2021 as they reached the final but lost 1-0 to Chelsea. Since then, City hasn't lost to Chelsea and has looked hungrier than ever to finally lift the trophy alongside the League and FA Cup.
Manchester City are currently second in the Premier League but has two games in hand over challengers Arsenal, meaning that it is in their hands to win the league again. Their comfortable victory against Arsenal on Wednesday emphasised the drive and gulf in quality of this City side, and they are firm favourites to win the league. They are also in the FA Cup final where they are favourites to win against Manchester United and are in the semi-finals of the Champions League where they face Real Madrid over two legs.
In the League, City are unbeaten in their last 10 matches, winning their last 7 and scoring 22 goals. They have the top goalscorer in the division with Haaland breaking the record for goals scored in a single 38-match season with 33 goals. City also have the player who has registered the most assists in the league through Kevin De Bruyne, whose 2 goals and assists against Arsenal on Wednesday epitomised the level he and the team are currently performing at.
In the FA Cup, Manchester City have reached the final without conceding a single goal, becoming the first team in 57 years to do so.
In the Champions League, City have not lost a game, conceding only 4 goals while scoring 26. While they have rarely had a problem with scoring large numbers of goals, this season has been a marked improvement on their defensive displays and capabilities. New signing Akanji has played on the right, left and centre back, while John Stones has returned to true form and Ake has put in performances that have kept highly rated defender Laporte out of the starting line-up. Former Manchester United and City midfielder Owen Hargreaves hailed City's "flawless" defensive performance in their last Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.
Manchester City have an even record against Real Madrid in the competition, with both sides winning 3 times against the other and drawing twice. Real Madrid won the Champions League last year, making it the 14th time in their history, the most of any club in the tournament. However, their domestic form has not been as positive, and there is good reason to believe that City will be able to beat the Spanish Giants, most recently stemming from their annihilation of Bayern Munich, another massive club with great prestige in the Champions League.
The fortunes and dreams of a football club can be achieved or destroyed in an instant, and so it remains to be seen if City can do enough to go all the way in their pursuit for the prestigious treble. With their dominant win in Europe over Bayern Munich, bountiful clean sheets in the FA Cup, and recent destruction of title challengers Arsenal, we are looking at a team that is brimming with confidence and belief. At such a pivotal point of the season, City's players, manager, and staff are showing professionalism and a defiant unity that wins titles, and the belief among the fans and pundits alike is that this squad is hungry and talented enough to achieve the treble and etch their mark in history as one of the best football teams of all time.
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