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Jul 18, 2012

All change, please

Norman Hubbard is ESPN's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

Manchester City have replaced Manchester United as the new Premier League champions. This year, we also have new champions in La Liga (Real Madrid), Serie A (Juventus), and Ligue 1 (Montpellier). In addition, we have seen different Champions League and Europa League champions in Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. Has there been any season when there were so many new champions in the major European leagues and tournaments? Sheng from Michigan asked.

While Borussia Dortmund retained the Bundesliga title, it gives new champions in four of Europe's five major leagues plus both continental competitions, and we don't have to look back too far to see another instance when the name on six trophies changed. Last year Barcelona replaced Inter as Champions League winners, Porto replaced Atletico Madrid as Europa League/UEFA Cup winners, Manchester United replaced Chelsea as English champions, AC Milan replaced Inter as Italian champions, Dortmund replaced Bayern Munich as German champions and Lille replaced Marseille as French champions. Only in La Liga, won for a third successive season by Barcelona, did the champions stay the same.

Finding a year when all seven competitions had different winners is a little harder, but not impossible. In the 2001-02 season, the five major domestic leagues were won by Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus, Dortmund and Lyon, who succeeded Manchester United, Valencia, Roma, Bayern Munich and Nantes respectively. In addition, Feyenoord replaced Liverpool as UEFA Cup winners while Real Madrid took over from Bayern as Champions League winners.

In the 49 seasons where it is possible to make the comparison - the Bundesliga only began in 1963-64 - there are two other years when all seven competitions (including the Fairs Cup, as the UEFA Cup's predecessor, and the European Cup, rather than the Champions League) had new champions: 1966-67 and 1994-95. In both seasons, too, there was also a different name on the Cup Winners' Cup, so there were eight different champions.

In full, the champions in those seasons were: 1966-67 - Celtic (European Cup), Bayern Munich (Cup Winners' Cup), Dinamo Zagreb (Fairs Cup), Manchester United (England), Saint Etienne (France), Juventus (Italy), Real Madrid (Spain) and Eintracht Braunschweig (West Germany); 1994-95 - Ajax (European Cup), Real Zaragoza (Cup Winners' Cup), Parma (UEFA Cup), Blackburn (England), Nantes (France), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Juventus (Italy) and Real Madrid (Spain).

I have noticed a handful of goalkeeping captains in the Euros 2012, featuring the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas and even Hugo Lloris. Who else is there, and is this the largest showing of armband-wearing No. 1s in an international tournament? If not, when? Louis from Singapore asked.

This was actually the second successive major tournament when there were three goalkeeping captains. In the 2010 World Cup, Casillas was joined by two South Americans - Paraguay's Justo Villar and Chile's Claudio Bravo. However, that was three from 32 teams, whereas in Euro 2012, it is three from 16. There is another European Championship with three goalkeeping captains - 1996, with Spain's Andoni Zubizarreta, Bulgaria's Borislav Mihailov and Portugal's Vitor Baia.

But there is a clear winner. The 1998 had no fewer than seven goalkeeper-captains: Frode Grodas (Norway), Jacques Songo'o (Cameroon), Jose Luis Chilavert (Paraguay), Zubizarreta (Spain), Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh (Iran), Chokri El Ouaer (Tunisia) and Warren Barrett (Jamaica).

However, there is a tournament with a higher percentage of keeper-captains. In the 1984 European Championship, there were only eight teams but a quarter - i.e. two - were led by shot-stoppers: Portugal's Manuel Bento and yet another Spaniard, Luis Arconada.

Just to clarify, I am only counting the official captain, not others who have inherited the armband due to injuries, suspensions, substitutions etc, so each national team only had one captain per tournament.

The highly unusual and electrifying July 14, 2012 match between the Portland Timbers and the LA Galaxy featured a brace from a Scotsman (Kris Boyd), a brace from an Irishman (Robbie Keane) and a brace from an Englishman (David Beckham). Has this ever happened before? And if so, has it ever happened in any league outside of the UK/Ireland? Dan Upp asked

An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman have formed the basis of many a joke and, in this instance, a quiz question, too. There is a precedent for each scoring at least twice in the same game: Leeds United's record victory is 10-0 against Lyn Oslo in the European Cup in 1969. Scotsman Billy Bremner and Irishman Johnny Giles each scored twice while one English striker, Allan Clarke, also got a brace and another, Mick Jones, ended up with a hat-trick.

However, I am not aware of any examples of it happening without British or Irish teams being involved. If any readers are, please let me know.

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