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Manchester City’s Treble bid is well and truly on.
Pep Guardiola’s side are potentially now as few as 12 games away from a remarkable Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup triple and become just the second English team to achieve the feat.
Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick was more than enough to power them past Sheffield United at Wembley on Saturday and into the FA Cup final, ending their streak of three successive semi-final defeats in the competition.
They host Premier League leaders Arsenal on Wednesday – trailing by five points but with two games in hand – and have a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on the horizon.
Guardiola has been quick to dismiss any talk of the Treble – again calling it “far away” after the Wembley semi-final – but going into the climax to the season on a 16-match unbeaten run in all competitions, it feels increasingly likely they will get very close to landing it.
And even he admits the whole club has the right mentality to win trophies.
“Fighting for the titles, being there every year, means the mentality of the club – not just the players – is there,” the Spaniard said.
Former Everton midfielder Leon Osman told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The whole of Europe is wowed by what Manchester City are doing and how they’re playing.”
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville believes the Treble is “definitely on”.
Ask Guardiola about the prospect of the Treble, though, and you will get short shrift.
“I’ll talk to you about it after we have won the FA Cup and Premier League,” he said.
“Before the final of the Champions League we will start to talk of the Treble. Look how far away it is. We are far, far away. How many times in this amazing country have Trebles been done? How many years? How many teams?
“It is one. Once. Our neighbours did it in how many centuries? Am I excited about the Treble? Not at all.”
He has not got an easy job silencing the growing talk around it though – especially after Mahrez’s show-stealing semi-final display demonstrated once again the strength in depth at Guardiola’s disposal.
Guardiola made six changes from the side that progressed past Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek but, after Mahrez’s opening penalty eased any nerves, City cruised into their first FA Cup final since 2019.
Mahrez, who became the first City player to score a Wembley hat-trick and is the first scorer of a semi-final treble since 1958, said: “We really want to work hard in every competition going.
“We’re in the final of the FA Cup, which is amazing. Now we have to concentrate on the league and the next game against Arsenal.
“We have a very good squad and a very good team. We have to keep going.”
Manchester City will face the winners of Brighton against Manchester United at Wembley in early June and are considered favourites to defend their Premier League title after Arsenal’s recent wobble.
Roy Keane, who won the Treble with Manchester United in 1998-99, told ITV: “They are peaking at a great time and look in great shape to win the big trophies.
“They have a few hurdles to get over, in particular Real Madrid. They are red-hot favourites for the league and cup but the big hurdle is Real Madrid.”
Osman added on 5 live: “Manchester City have made another step towards that Treble. It’s on, they’re marching along really well, they’re full of confidence. They’re really winning games at a canter at times. Bring on the big ones to come.
“Not many teams are able to keep up, only a few in the Premier League and one or two in the pinnacle of European football.”
Manchester City’s Premier League title win in 2019 earned them a historic domestic treble, as they became the first English men’s team to win the top-flight league as well as both cups.
But, while a hugely impressive achievement, winning the league title, FA Cup and European Cup is considered by many to be the holy grail.
Guardiola’s men are only 12 games away from becoming the 10th European side to sweep the board – with the chance of joining Manchester United as the only English side to do it.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool had dreams of a quadruple last season – to match Celtic’s unmatched achievement in 1967 – but ultimately had to settle for a domestic cup double.
Liverpool fans will rightly remind people of their two trebles; winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup in 2001, and the European Cup, League Cup and First Division title in 1984 – making it just four trebles of various make-ups in the history of English men’s football.
A look at the record books shows winning even two trophies is rarely achieved.
In 2019 City became the first men’s team to win the FA Cup and the Premier League in the same season since Chelsea did it in 2009-10 and only the eighth club in history to do so.
Only Liverpool and Manchester United – who have both done it twice – have won the European Cup and league double in England.
Manchester City have won nine major trophies since Guardiola took charge in 2016. Will they make it 12 in seven seasons? You wouldn’t rule it out.
BBC Sports chief football writer Phil McNulty from Wembley: Manchester City look in ominously supreme form to emulate Manchester United’s famous feat of 1999 by winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s side have put themselves in the perfect position to win all three after a superb week in which they set up a Champions League semi-final with holders Real Madrid and reached an FA Cup final against Brighton or Manchester United by beating Sheffield United at Wembley.
And the huge sky blue shadow is closing in the rear view mirror of Premier League leaders Arsenal with a potentially decisive meeting against the Gunners at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Real Madrid are outstanding in the Champions League but they will hold no terrors for City, especially after the addition of the explosive Erling Haaland since their dramatic Champions League semi-final last season.
City have arguably never had a better chance to claim all three of the big prizes for what is rightly regarded as the perfect Treble. They have formidable all-round strength and are reaching a crescendo just when Guardiola would have wanted them to.