Liverpool next? How 6 treble winners navigated make-or-break April

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Manchester United's Ryan Giggs during their FA Cup victory over Arsenal at Villa Park, Birmingham, April 1999.

April. Spring has arrived, the nights are longer and the football season has heated up – as these six previous treble winners discovered. Will the Liverpool side of 2022 match their feat?

The penultimate month of the season is reserved for huge matches; title showdowns, cup semi-finals and European heavyweight clashes feature heavily on our list.

With injuries mounting, fatigue at its highest and mind games feeding into the frenzy of it all, it’s surprising that any team can handle the pressure of mounting challenges on three trophies at once.

Liverpool may discover this over the next 30 days. They’ll face Manchester City in the league and FA Cup, alongside a Champions League quarter-final with Benfica and huge derby matches with Everton and Manchester United.

Will they still be in all competitions at the end of April? That remains to be seen.

But Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players will surely be looking for some historical pointers as immortality beckons. They’ve already got the League Cup under their belt and are vying to become the first side in history to complete the quadruple.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City can still match United’s famous treble of ’99. For once they didn’t win the League Cup but they’re still going strong on all three major fronts.

We’ve gone through the archives and discovered how the six treble-winning sides from Europe’s major leagues navigated the make-or-break month of April.

Manchester United, 1998-99

United only played three league matches in April 1999, drawing at Wimbledon and Leeds and thumping Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford. Five points from nine saw them slip behind Arsenal but they’d make up the ground in May.

But there were two club-defining nights that April that’ll live long in the memory of United supporters. One involved Roy Keane destroying Juventus on his own, the other introduced us to the unsettling sight of Ryan Giggs’ chest hair…

Barcelona, 2008-09

Pep Guardiola’s Barca really hit the accelerator in April 2009, winning four league matches and rescuing a point at Valencia thanks to a late equaliser from Thierry Henry.

Those 13 points consolidated their position at the top of La Liga and allowed Guardiola’s men to concentrate their attention on the Champions League.

Bayern Munich were dispatched with the ease of Tyson Fury facing Ken Barlow in a prime-time bout, with Barca beating the German champions 5-1 on aggregate.

There was also time for a goalless draw with Chelsea in the first leg of their semi-final, which is now the forgotten prelude to that wild night at Stamford Bridge at the start of May.

Inter Milan, 2009-10

Four Serie A matches, three wins (including a comprehensive 2-0 win over Juventus) and a solid point at Fiorentina was enough for Jose Mourinho’s Inter to overhaul Roma at the top of the league table. It was a position they wouldn’t relinquish.

April was also the month Inter progressed to the final of the Italian Cup, winning 1-0 against Fiorentina after the first leg was bizarrely held in February.

But nobody remembers that. Because April 2010 was the month Mourinho got his revenge over Barcelona and Guardiola by knocking them out of the Champions League in a dramatic semi-final.

The sight of the Inter boss celebrating on the Camp Nou pitch remains one of the most iconic in the competition’s history.

Bayern Munich, 2012-13

Juventus dispatched in the Champions League quarter-final? Check.

A memorable 4-0 demolition of Barcelona in the first leg of the semis? Check.

An even bigger semi-final victory, 6-1 against Wolfsburg in the German Cup? Of course.

Winning all four league matches, reaching a Bundesliga-record 84 points by the end of April? Ladies and gentlemen, feast upon the perfect calendar month achieved by Bayern Munich back in 2013.

Barcelona, 2014-15

Barca romped through an unusually hectic April in 2015, winning five of their six La Liga matches with only Sevilla managing to scrounge a point off the champions-elect.

PSG were brushed aside in the Champions League quarters, kickstarting the French side’s love-hate relationship with the competition, leaving Barca to progress to a semi-final with Bayern and redemption for their humiliation two years previously.

This was the peak of the Messi-Neymar-Suarez era. Unstoppable.

Bayern Munich, 2019-20

Remember April 2020? Lockdown, feeling like a fugitive on your second walk of the day and queuing for the supermarket?

Bayern Munich’s treble push, like most things in the world, was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic and their quest for three trophies would have to wait until the summer months.

They did return to training at the start of April though. Bayern would go on to win the Bundesliga by 13 points and beat PSG in the ‘ghost’ Champions League final in Lisbon.

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