Thursday, May 24, 2007

Will the treble ever be done again?...

Going into this year's Champions League final in Athens, many fans and pundits have been musing over the fact that both the Merseyside Reds and Milan were not champions in their own countries. Liverpool finished some 21 points behind United while Milan finished 33 points behind Inter Milan, what this says about the Champions League has been debated since the composition of the final was known.

Clearly the two competing teams in this year's final are great at knockout football - which is what Mourinho has been saying about Liverpool for some time. Others have stated that it will be nigh on impossible to win the Champions League and the Premiership in the same season.

One of the main reasons that both Liverpool and Milan knocked out United and Chelsea respectively this year is because both finalists were able to rest key players. Milan rested the whole of their first team ahead of the semi final leg at Old Trafford and a further six players ahead of the second leg in Milan. Liverpool rested star players ahead of their clash with Chelsea. The English and Italian clubs were only able to rest players because they were so far behind their domestic league leaders.

So there is no doubt in my mind that the final in Athens was fought out by two teams who are nowhere near being the best teams in Europe - but unlike some - I have no problem with the name of this competition, unlike the many carping Liverpool supporting traditionalists. There's also no getting away from the fact that the present format is much harder to win than its predecessor, because in the current guise of the Champions League it has never been won back-to-back. The Champions League remains the premier knockout club competition that much is also true.
However, it does beg the question will the treble ever be completed again?

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you about rest being a factor in who arrived in the final, but I do believe that the treble can be done again. It should be remembered that every trophy is work, and the winners and losers aren't usually separated by much. A team may be able to win the league by a couple of points, but then get knocked out of the FA cup by the team in second place (ala Man U and Chelsea). So, just because a team wins domestically doesn't mean they should be expected to win in Europe. It's like picking winners of World Cup qualifying groups to actually win the World Cup just because they were tops in their region. A team that can win a treble is special, and can't be found every year, or every decade even. However those teams do emerge occasionally. We just have to wait until all of the elements of such a team come together again, like the Man U side that claimed the treble, or the France side that claimed the World Cup and Euro competitions.

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  2. One of the suspicious aspects of the match (and this is very well a conspiracy theory) was that Benitez immediately started complaining after the game about the lack of star players. He argued that Liverpool's shortcomings (inability to do anything in the final third) came from lack of spending, and that the new owners better pay up or else.

    It seemed that the lack of finishing power had perhaps something to do with putting Crouch on only very late and leaving Bellamy to writhe on the bench. It makes little sense to not use available resources and then complain about not having enough.

    Benitez Quick To Seek More Cash
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=433118&cc=5901

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  3. That is a conspiracy theory too far IMO.

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  4. Writing from Texas, it comes with the territory.

    By the way, great blog. Since discovering it a while back (around the 4-1 Blackburn match), I check your site frequently.

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