Liverpool begin their pursuit of a third straight Champions League final when they face Napoli in Italy on Tuesday.
The European champions – and runners-up in 2018 – will hope to play 13 games in the competition between now and the final on 30 May 2020 in Istanbul, the scene of one of the greatest nights in the club’s history 14 years ago.
But just how difficult is it to retain the Champions League? And is a tilt at doing so likely to come at the expense of the other holy grail at Anfield – a first league title in a generation?
How hard is it?
If it was easy, everyone would do it. Retaining the Champions League trophy has eluded even the greatest of club sides in the modern era.
Before Zinedine Zidane took Real Madrid to three straight wins in 2016, 2017 and 2018, no side had won the trophy back to back since Frank Rijkaard’s goal in Vienna was enough for Arrigo Sacchi’s grand AC Milan team to take the honour in 1990.
Even Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona – perhaps the finest club side this century – ‘only’ managed to win the trophy twice in a three-year spell. In fact, Barcelona have never managed two finals in two years.
Since the European Cup began in 1956, 11 sides have made it to consecutive finals, with the first 30 years littered with dynasties.
Liverpool are already in the midst of a third different spell of straight finals, more than any other club.
Only Valencia have managed successive finals without winning either, while Real’s run of five straight at the competition’s birth looks safe – for a few years at least.