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Teams to have won the continental treble

Over the years, 7 teams have managed to win the continental treble in Europe with Barcelona the only club to do it twice and following is a list of the 5 best such triumphs in the modern era

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Last updated: 22.05.2019
Teams to have won the continental treble | Sports Social Blog

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Consistency is the hallmark of success and in football, and in football it is the very yardstick to measure a team's success. While knockout competitions test a teams ability to provide consistent successive results without a single slip, the league measures how adept a team is in grinding out results in a hectic schedule and maintain their form over the course of 9 months.


And while none of those above feats is easy to achieve, the very thought of achieving all of them at once seems impossible at times. To play 60+ games and manage to come out on top of everyone is something worth celebrating for decades. And this is why, we love the beautiful game, don't we? Not only have clubs gone on to win trebles, but also repeated the feat.

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Over the years, 7 teams have managed to win the continental treble in Europe with Barcelona the only club to do it twice and following is a list of the 5 best such triumphs in the modern era:


Celtic


The Lisbon Lions scripted history in the 1966-67 season by becoming the first ever team to win the continental treble. Back then, only Real Madrid, Benfica, Internazionale and AC Milan had won the coveted European trophy. Hence, Celtic became the first, and to date the only, Scottish team to win the tournament as they beat Inter in the final.


However, the team went a are beyond and ended the season with an unbelievable and what was then an unprecedented quíntuple by winning all the competitions they took part in, which included the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the European Cup, the league and the Glasgow Cup. They were known for playing a beautiful and attractive brand of football with the focus largely on being innovative and creating attacks, even though the team was astute defensively too.


To this day, it remains the club's most prestigious achievement in its long and glowing history, and the club's east stand has been dedicated to the heroics of this team. A bronze statue of their captain Billy McNeill, holding aloft the Europe Cup,  outside the stadium is a constant reminder to the club faithful of the legacy of the achievement and the determination it took to achieve it.


AFC Ajax


Buoyed by their victorious European Cup campaign in 1971, the club was determined to pull off even greater feats, even though they had a new man at the helm having the name Ștefan Kovács. Led by the ever charismatic Johan Cruyff, Ajax' heroics in the 1972-73 season gained them entry into this exclusive club as they wanted on to win all the three major trophies.


Rinus Michel's total football revolution had reached its peak stage, and even though he had just left the club, his ideology was already deep set in the mind of the players and he had left behind a tactical genius to make sure the philosophy lived on. At his peak, Johan Cruyff orchestrated his team beautifully throughout the year as he led from the front in the final of the European Cup scoring a brace to beat Internazionale 2-0 and lift the trophy at Rotterdam in the Netherlands itself. This was their second successive continental triumph and they would go on to be named champions again the next season. In 34 league matches, Ajax scored a resounding 104 goals while conceding only 20 as they won it in dominant fashion. A victory in the final of the KNVB Cup sealed the deal, as Ajax' became only the second club in history to complete the treble.


Soon, Ajax would go through a rough patch failing to win the league in four years before Cruyff returned as manager and turned around their fortune. The club has achieved considerable success since then but the treble remains the prize catch in its illustrious history.


PSV Eindhoven


If Ajax did it, then they had to too. And boy did they do it in style. The 1987-88 season saw PSV dominating both on the domestic as well as the international stage. Not only they scored a whooping 117 goals in the league to trump their fierce rivals Ajax by 9 points, they did so after having sold Ruud Gullit at the start of the season to AC Milan. However, with the presence of legendary Ronald Koeman and under the guidance of another icon Guus Hiddink, the Dutch club would go on to prevail in all the three major competitions.


The win was probably not as handsome as the other clubs had pulled off in the previous years, but it was as commanding as any other team had managed in history. However, it was a series of resolute performances that bore the signs of a team hungry for glory. Enroute to winning the European Cup, not only did they eliminate the record holders Real Madrid in the semi finals but also defeated Benfica, another European powerhouse a the time, in a tense penalty shootout to lift the trophy. Having won the KNVB Cup by defeating Roda JC in the final courtesy an Eric Gerets brace, PSV become only the third team in history to lift the continental treble.


The seasons remains PSV's most successful in history as they were never able to replicate the feat, even though they have managed to win multiple doubles since then, including in the very next season and most recently in the 2004-05 season winning the league and the league cup.


Manchester United


The treble of 1998-99 is probably the most dramatic in history and hence, the most memorable too. Every football fan around the world has heard of the United's triumph in the season and to date it remains the club's most special achievement among the 60+ off trophies the club has managed to conquered over a long and glittering history.


Having gone trophyless the previous season, a few could have imagine what was in store for the club. Not only did they go on to become the richest club in the world come the end of season, their manager was given a knighthood and officially came to be known as Sir Alex Ferguson. But it certainly was not easy. In the league, the team faced the mammothian task of seeing of Wenger's rejuvenated Arsenal, and they only managed to do so in the final day of the season, winning the trophy by a single point. The league done and dusted, United faced Newcastle in the FA Cup final having defeated Arsenal 2-0 in the semis. In front of 79,000 spectators, a Scholes and a Sheringham goal led to the double, with only hurdle remaining. And then in a historic night at the Camp Nou, the entire world got to witness Fergie time in its prime as two stoppage time goals helped United overcome a 1 goal deficit and defeat Bayern Munich in the final to complete what remains English football's only continental treble.


Warding off Arsenal in the league, the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the cup, and then Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus and Inter in the UEFA Champions League is no mean feat. Probably that is why this feat is still remembered by so many around the world as their favourite footballing memory of all time. "Football, bloody hell" indeed.


Barcelona


2008-09 is the season which heralded a new era in modern football. It had been done by the likes of Pele and Cruyff in the past, but this time it would begin with a young Pro Guardiola and his legendary team which is often labelled as the best football team ever assembled in the history of the beautiful game.


Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Eto'o, Puyol, Henry, Toure, Piqué, Busquets, Alves and so many more, that claim seems to be well justified. Not only would the club go on to win the treble, they would become the first and the only team in history till date to complete the elusive sextuple. Barcelona ended up winning the league comfortably, ending 9 points on top of Real Madrid and scoring a 105 goals in the process. This included 6-1 and 6-2 thumpings of Atlético and Real Madrid respectively, such was the domination of this team. Enroute to the Copa del Rey title, the club eliminated Atlético and Espanyol before annihilating Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the final to win a double in Pep's very first season. However, there was more to come. With Messi having hit peak during the season, Barcelona were an unstoppable force as they eliminated Bayern and Chelsea to reach the final. In one of the greatest performances ever on a football field, Pep's team completely outplayed the legendary Alex Ferguson's United in the final and stream rolled to a 2-0 victory to lift the treble.


A large part of the team would go on to represent Spain in internationals and be the key behind their historic run as they won two consecutive Euros and the FIFA World Cup. The club would go on to win another treble in the 2014-15 season, this time fuelled by their front 3 of Messi, Neymar and Suárez. The trio scored a combined 122 goals in the season to make Barcelona the only club to repeat the grand success.


Internazionale


The 209-10 season was a story of underdogs, and Inter had the perfect man ta the helm who was born for such situations: Jose Mourinho. After having led Porto in the past to an unexpected UCL triumph, the manager took it upon himself to lead Inter to the title too. Only this team, he managed to win the other two major trophies alongwith the European competition and complete a historic treble.


After having had a big summer buying the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto'o and Diego Milito, Inter were all set to have a big season. While they cruised along in the league, Roma proved to be tough competitors and Inter only managed to win the title in the final stages finishing on top by  mere 2 points and retaining the Scudetto. In the cup, Inter were given a tough draw but they managed to win against Juventus and Fiorentina to reach the final where they again faced off against Roma. In a tense encounter, Diego Milito's first half goal turned out to be the only thing that separated the two teams as Inter completed the domestic double. However, it is the Champions League which provided the fans with the most fantastic narrative. Having been drawn in the group of death, Inter somehow managed to finish second and qualify for the knockouts, where they had to face Chelsea and later, CSKA Moscow. Having dispatched the two after some struggle, the big task lay in defeating Barcelona, a team in their prime, probably the greatest 11 ever assembled having Lionel Messi the world's best player back then in their lineup and led by tactical genius Pep Guardiola. However, in an extraordinary turn of events, a brilliant performance by Jose's men, especially Sneijder, meant they won 3-2 on aggregate and had to now only trump Bayern to win the title. In another close affair, Diego Milito yet again turned up scoring a goal in each half to complete what remains Italy's only treble.


A brilliant feat remembered for the team's constant toil throughout the season and a never die attitude instilled in them by manager, Inter have rarely managed to even qualify for the tournament's later stages since, as the feat looms large that they won't even qualify for the tournament this season. Regardless, it remains Inter's greatest achievement and even if they manage to win one in the future, it will take quite some doing to match the manner in which this one was achieved, with pure grit and passion.


Bayern Munich


The last addition to the exclusive club, Bayern fans were only recovering from the heartbreak of having lost in the final of the Champions League in the previous year when the players managed to amaze then by going a step beyond and becoming only the 7th European Club to achieve the iconic feat of winning a continental treble. Led by Bavaria's cult figure Jupp Heynckes, Bayern's historic spree meant that in 121 years of its existence, the season remains the most successful ever for the club.


6 weeks before the final day, Bayern had already clinched the league title breaking numerous records on the way. Not only did they become the fastest ever team to seal the German league title back then, they ended the season with a record 91 points, they had a goal difference on 80 and never once dropped from the top position in the table throughout the entire season. The runners up finished 25 points behind them, a record that still stands. With league done and dusted, Bayern didn't really struggle much in the cup too. They cruised through to the semis having beaten Dortmund enroute as they annihilated Wolfsburg to reach the final, before another scintillating display against Stuttgart in the final draw them run away with the trophy at their old home, the Olympiastadion. All that remained now was to seek redemption in the final and finally brings the trophy home after a long, long wait. Having narrowly beaten Arsenal in the first knockout stage by qualifying on the away goals rule, Bayern put up a dominating display to eliminate Juventus by winning 4-0 over two legs, setting up an enticing semi final with Barcelona that made the record books. One of the best ties ever in the club's history, the 7-0 win over two legs handed Barcelona their most humiliating defeat in the history of the tournament, a record yet to be bettered. This set up an all German final with Borussia Dortmund at the home of football itself, the Wembley. Having missed penalty in the previous year's final, Arjen Robben made good in his chance this time as he scored with an amazing finish in the dying moments of the game to lead the club to its first and only treble.


The Robbery duo raged on the wings the entire season, while the dominating presence of Javi Martínez in midfield and the creativity of Muller, Kroos and Schweinsteiger provided a glowing attacking outlet. The ever dependent Lahm along with rock solid Boateng in defence and Neuer in goal ensured Bayern's season finished without a hiccup and the treble is probably the most entertaining and dominating football a club has ever played over the course of an entire season.

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