Only eight European teams have ever won the coveted Treble (Domestic League, Domestic Cup and Champions League) in European soccer, with only one team doing it twice; Barcelona in ’08-09 and ’14-15. Most leagues across Europe only have three competitions but England, being the usual outlier they are, have two domestic cup competitions allowing them to achieve an unprecedented Quadruple. Only one English team has won a Treble, Manchester United in ’98-99 coached by Sir Alex Furgeson. But now Manchester City, coached by Barca’s ’08-09 treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola, are presented with the opportunity to win that elusive Quadruple and at the least England’s second ever treble.
What makes a Treble or Quadruple so hard?
It’s hard enough winning a domestic league title, especially in leagues like England and Spain where multiple teams always vie for that league title. But it’s even harder to balance a league schedule, a cup schedule and, if you’re lucky enough to be in European competition, a Champions League schedule. For instance if you were to win a treble you’d play 38 league matches (36 in the Bundesliga), around 6 domestic cup matches (6 more for English clubs) and 10 Champions League matches. For English clubs that is 60 total matches, the rest of Europe usually around 52-54 matches, with many weeks of the year containing 2-3 matches. A lot of those matches will sometimes be against clubs who aren’t playing that many fixtures, some playing almost half, giving them the advantage of rest.
Combine the congested fixtures especially late in the season, inevitable injuries, the need for depth, proper game-to-game management from managers and the always surprising nature of the sport where any team can win any match at any time and you have one of the hardest feats in all of sports.
So how do we analyze a situation like Manchester City, who have the opportunity to not only win a treble but an elusive quadruple? Let’s dive into the possibility by going into their chances at each competition.
EFL Carabao Cup – Champions.
This one is easy, as Manchester City secured the cup on February 24th in a penalty shootout. But this was a warning sign that even getting to the final doesn’t mean you can count your chickens before they hatch. It took Man City penalties to get their first title of the season and it’s certainly the easiest/least important competition of the four.
FA Cup – Quarterfinal
Man City got the luck of the draw in the FA Cup, the oldest soccer competition in the world, by drawing Swansea City of the second division and missing the other five Premier League teams still remaining. They should advance into the Semifinals but this tournament has a way with magic. Every year, a few big fish lose to a minnow and Man City are not immune to that trend. In the modern era they have only won the cup once and have lost to a third division team and a second division team twice in the last six years (both ironically to Wigan). They should be okay playing Swansea on March 16th but they play a Champions League match just a few days prior, reinforcing the need for depth and game-to-game management. And with City’s recent big injuries, they may want to tread with caution.
The remaining opponents will either be Wolves/Manchester United, Crystal Palace/Watford and Millwall/Brighton and without knowing the draw for the next round it’s hard to assess their chances. But those remaining teams with the exception of Manchester United, who have the toughest draw of the group, are teams who City should beat. I think the FA Cup is their next best chance at a title and Vegas seems to agree, putting them at (-150) to win the title with United behind them at (+300).
I’d take them at (-150), with their implied probability being 60% to win the FA Cup.
English Premier League – 1st Place
What a wild season it’s been in the Premier League this year. In arguably one of the best title races in a decade, Liverpool’s 10 point lead in December has flipped to a one point lead for Man City. It’s the title Pep Guardiola is most focused on (or so he says) and it’s the one City fans want more than anything else, much due to the fact that they can quiet the noisy Liverpool fans after a tumultuous season.
But what are City’s chances at retaining their Premier League crown? Well Vegas has them as clear favorites at (-300, 75% implied probability) which is surprising since City is in one more competition than Liverpool. Liverpool do have a bit of a tougher schedule and play Wolves in the final match of the season compared to City who play Brighton and their only really tough league game looks like the Manchester Derby against United (still a tough task). I think Manchester City will win the league but their odds are a little excessive for my taste and it hinges a lot on things that they can’t control (Liverpool’s remaining fixtures and City’s own injury problems). I think this is their second best chance remaining at a title this season, but I also think Vegas is overvaluing them with only a one point lead on Liverpool.
I wouldn’t take the odds at (-300), but I do think they’ll retain the Premier League title.
UEFA Champions League – Quarterfinals
After absolutely throttling FC Schalke in the Round of 16, City have now drawn Tottenham in the Quarterfinals of the Champions League. There are two ways you could look at their draw against Spurs; one being good since they could’ve drawn teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool or United and one being bad since they already play Spurs twice a year and will play them three times in the same month in April. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row, and City will surely need to win the one in the league and at least one in the Champions League convincingly if they still want a chance at the Quadruple.
In regards to the actual odds, City’s odds went unchanged since before the second leg and were the only team to do so, meaning Vegas’ confidence in them has not changed and they remain favorites at (+250), an implied probability of 27%, with Barcelona lurking behind them at (+330).
So, can City do it? Well if they do indeed beat Spurs in the Quarterfinal they would face the winner of Ajax and Juvenuts (likely Juventus). That might be a really tall order for the Cityzens, especially if they are in a tight title race with Juve already having their Serie A title wrapped up. I think they can do it, making all four of their legs for the Quadruple possible, but I wouldn’t take them at the deflated odds of (+250) to win the Champions league.
I wouldn’t take the odds at (+250), but I do think they have the best chance at winning the Champions League due to their quality, depth and possible path compared to the other side of the bracket. With that being said many things can happen on the way and likely facing Juve in a semifinal and Liverpool/Barca in a final will be a very tough task for them. I don’t expect them to win it, but I would definitely leave the door open to the possibility.
Manchester City can surely win a treble and possibly even a quadruple, but in the end they will likely have to focus on winning the Premier League first and go from there. I think they’ll win the FA Cup and the Premier League but fall short in the Champions League to Juventus in the Semifinal as things stand now. City is the only team remaining in the Champions League that will have to fight for three more trophies, making their quadruple unlikely. But…
I would take City winning the Quadruple at (+600) but only for value’s sake. I believe their chances to win the domestic treble (League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League) are much higher and I would also take them at (+140) to do so. Regardless it should be fascinating to see how this pans out, and if City can become the most successful single-season European team of all time.