There have been many near-misses, demonstrating just how difficult it is to complete the double, with teams either losing the cup final after becoming champions or just missing out in the league but then going on to win the cup. Liverpool, for example, won the League and the European Cup in 1977 but surprisingly lost to rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final that season, while Leeds lost out on three separate occasions in 7 years between 1965 and 1972, indeed the Yorkshire side managed to complete a ‘double horror’ twice, that is, losing the FA Cup final and coming second in the league.
Bayern Munich have just completed their 8th domestic double in Germany demonstrating their dominance at home – the third time in four years they have done this, indeed only three other clubs have managed to do the double in Germany, Stuttgart, Koln and Werder Bremen in 2004. The double is not so common in Italy – which may be partly due to the lack of interest in the Coppa Italia – but Inter Milan have a chance of winning their second ever double this season which would bring them alongside Juventus as the most successful double-winning team in Italian football. In Spain, you might be surprised to hear that Athletic Bilbao have actually won five doubles – the last coming in 1984, while the last of Barca’s five came last year when, of course, they won everything they played for.
So which club in Europe holds the record for most doubles? Well, Ajax have 7 Dutch doubles, Bayern have one more, while Benfica have nine Portuguese doubles. All impressive, but Greek side Olympiakos have manged to do the double on an amazing 14 occasions and Rangers have managed it 18 times in Scotland yet neither of them are the most successful double-winning sides – that honour goes to Northern Ireland’s Linfield who have unbelievably managed it on 21 occasions.
Trebles, Quadruples and More
When we speak of a treble we usually refer to a double plus the European Cup / Champions League and, as you can imagine, very few clubs have managed to do that. We have already mentioned Manchester United in 1999 and Barcelona last season but only 3 other teams in Europe have succeeded in doing the treble: Dutch sides Ajax in 1972 and PSV Eindhoven in 1988 and Scottish team Celtic who did it in 1967. In fact, Celtic became the first ever side to win a quadruple that year as they also won the Scottish League Cup to go with their treble. But as we have already mentioned Barcelona went two better last season when they won all six trophies they participated in. The Copa del Rey and La Liga constituted a domestic double. The Catalan side turned it into a treble when they beat Manchester United in the Champions League final and then made it six trophies with the FIFA Club World Cup, the European Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup. Surely that can never be emulated?
domestic: The competition at home; not international competitions
quite a feat indeed: Something that is very difficult to do
the traits: Characteristics (of a team)
near-misses: To almost do something (here to almost win the double)
‘double horror’ Losing the FA Cup final and coming second in the league
quadruple: To win 4 trophies
constituted Made up; formed part of
be emulated: To be beaten, to be surpassed