According to Wikipedia, Linfield, a semi-professional club from Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the only professional or semi-professional team to win seven trophies in a single season. Remarkably, the club actually achieved this feat on two separate occasions, 1921-22 and 1961-62.
Linfield’s list of trophies includes domestic league success as well as an amalgam of city, region, and all-Irish Cups, several of which are now defunct. You’ll notice that the UEFA Champions League, for example, is absent from its list of achievements.
The Northern Irish club’s history-making notwithstanding, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona currently enjoys the most impressive trophy haul ever recorded by a professional soccer club, winning six titles in 2009: La Liga, the Copa del Rey (the Spanish Cup), UEFA Champions League, the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Six years on, that unbelievable achievement has come close to being equaled by Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in 2010, Guardiola’s Barca again in 2011, and Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich in 2013 (all eventually finished with five trophies), but never surpassed. This is mostly because, in most of Europe, six trophies is the maximum a team could lift in a calendar year. However, England, France, and some other European leagues tack on an extra competition to their domestic seasons in the form of a league cup, allowing first division teams to compete for seven trophies.
Which brings us to our thought for today: Paris Saint-Germain could make history.
Of course, it (more than) probably won’t, but if Laurent Blanc’s men beat St. Etienne in the Coupe de France semifinal at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, then the unconscionably wealthy Qatar-backed super club would still be on course for seven trophies. And even though 2015 is little more than three months old, PSG is alone in this mission, since Chelsea, which already won the English League Cup last month, is out of both the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Again, it probably won’t happen -- it certainly won’t happen if PSG loses to St. Etienne later -- but the French giant is still alive in Ligue 1, where it leads second-place Lyon by a single point, the Coupe de la Ligue, with the final against Bastia on Saturday, the Coupe de France, with the aforementioned semifinal Wednesday, and the UEFA Champions League, with a two-game quarterfinal series against Barcelona set to begin next Tuesday.
The other three trophies -- the Trophee des Champions (between the winner of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France), the UEFA Super Cup (between the UEFA Europa League and Champions League winner) and FIFA Club World Cup (a tournament involving the winners of each continental knockout competition) -- only become available at the beginning of next season if PSG prevails in the latter stages of this one.
With little more than six weeks left to go until the end of the 2014-15 season, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi will be happy to see his expensively assembled super club still alive in four competitions. However, before he starts dreaming about conquering world history, he will dream first of conquering French history, as no club has ever simultaneously held the Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France titles at one time.
If PSG is to go the distance -- or more likely, some of the distance -- it will need its entire squad, which makes key injuries to center-back David Luiz, holding central midfielder Thiago Motta, winger Lucas Moura and midfield playmaker Yohann Cabaye worrying for Laurent Blanc. However, the state of PSG’s forward line could prove to be the French tactician’s biggest headache.
The whole world saw Edinson Cavani berate his head coach after being substituted early in the second half of PSG’s 3-2 win in “Le Classique” last weekend. The Uruguayan has since been ruled out of Wednesday’s French Cup clash with “a thigh problem.” Real or not, Cavani remains an important member of the PSG squad, particularly for what will be an intensely busy final few weeks of the season. The last thing PSG needed was that little tantrum, because it puts Blanc in a tough spot.
Why, because main striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is about to receive a multi-game ban for the tirade he lodged at the match referees (and France) during PSG’s 3-2 loss at Bordeaux last month. The big Swede will also miss Tuesday’s UCL clash at home to Barca, thanks to his red card against Chelsea in the round of 16 second-leg. If Wednesday’s Coupe semifinal is indeed his last game for a while, Blanc will need Cavani -- PSG’s only other true center forward -- to step up in Ibra’s absence.
All of which makes an unlikely scenario even unlikelier. But it will be fun watching, nonetheless.