FOOTBALL NEWS

28/07/2008 09:35, Report by Ben Hibbs
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Euro crown tough to retain

United face a tough task retaining the Champions League crown the Reds won so dramatically in Moscow, according to Owen Hargreaves. But he says Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad certainly have the talent to be among the main contenders.

AC Milan were the last team to win back-to-back European Cup titles in 1989 and 1990. But it would seem that long gone are the days when, between 1971-1980, the trophy changed hands just four times. Ajax won it three times between 1971-73, Bayern Munich held the title between 1974-76, Liverpool won it twice in a row in 1977-78, and Nottingham Forrest clinched successive crowns in 1979 and 1980.

“It is not impossible to retain the Champions League but it is going to be difficult,” said Hargreaves. “Barcelona have signed the right players, Real Madrid look good, and Chelsea have improved dramatically.

"It’s going to be tough and it’s a big ask. But we are very capable of doing it again.”

Hargreaves knows precisely how tough it can be. Having won the trophy in his first season with Bayern Munich in 2000/01, the Germans then surrendered the crown the following year, losing to eventual winners Real Madrid in the quarter finals.

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Playing for keeps

"It's getting harder and harder to win the Champions League. But it's not impossible to retain it. We're capable of doing it again."
- Owen Hargreaves

Only eight clubs have managed to retain the trophy in its 52-year history

Real Madrid - 1956-60
Benfica - 1961-62
Internazionale - 1964-65
Ajax - 1971-73
Bayern Munich - 1974-76
Liverpool - 1977-78
Nottingham Forest - 1979-80
AC Milan - 1989-90

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