Football : Year in Review

Football Year in Review: 2017

We fans had a fantastic year in terms of footballing action and there were some fantastic moments and some downs for certain teams, Real Madrid had an emphatic 2017 with the team getting their hands on the LaLiga, Champions League and the Club World cup. There were some astonishing amount of money spent in the transfer window and some great encounters including the Barcelona-PSG match in the champions league.

The European stage lost some greats to retirement in 2017. Arriverderci to the Peter Pan of Rome, the inimitable Francesco Totti; Auf Wiedersehen to World Cup-winning captain, Philipp Lahm, and his Bayern Munich teammate, the cultured Xabi Alonso.

But it was also a year of comebacks. During 2017 there were genuine doubts about whether Zlatan Ibrahimovic, badly injured, or Mario Gotze, ill, would play at the top level again. They have done. And it is heart-warming to see lesser lights, such as Thomas Vermaelen, excellent for Barcelona the last two months after endless agonies over fitness and the luckless Giuseppe Rossi, back in action last week for his latest club, Genoa, defying repeated and chronic problems, to return to elite football.

Oh, and Super Mario’s back on an upward curve. Again. Balotelli has 10 goals for Nice already this season.

We now here recap all the moments of the year in football that was.

January

January 1 its Arsenal vs Crustal Palace and Olivier Giroud treated the whole world with a stunner to welcome into the New Year, his scorpion kick brushed the crossbar and went into the goal which later went on to win the Puskas award.

Off the field, one of the biggest transfers of the 2017 January transfer window involved Gabriel Jesus, who finalised his long-awaited move to Manchester City from Palmeiras. The £27m deal was sketched out on 3 August 2016 but was eventually completed on 19 January after the Brazil season had concluded.

Meanwhile, fellow Brazilian, Oscar, left Stamford Bridge for £60m to join Shanghai SIPG. This transfer shocked the world and many European clubs feared that Chinese teams may use their huge financial resources to go for their star names, while there were rumours Chelsea’s Diego Costa had been unsettled by the potential of a move.

 

February

Despite struggling down in sixth place in the league, Manchester United started 2017 by getting their hands on the first piece of silverware available, with a League Cup final win over Southampton. Jose Mourinho’s side surrendered a 2-0 lead with Manolo Gabbiadini scoring twice for the Saints, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the last word, hitting the winner in the 87th minute.

In the FA Cup, Lincoln City became the first non-league side in 103 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals by scoring an 89th-minute winner against Burnley at Turf Moor, while in the Premier League, a 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge ramped the pressure up on Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, whose soon-to-expire contract continued to inspire headlines.

However, the biggest league story of the month was surely the sacking of Claudio Ranieri by Leicester City, just nine months after leading the club to one of the most sensational – and unlikely – title wins in English football history. However, with the club in the midst of the worst-ever defence to a league title and just one place above the relegation zone, the owners installed Ranieri’s assistant Craig Shakespeare as caretaker.

March

In any other year, the Patriots’ Super Bowl rally would have resolved any debate about the comeback of the year by February. But Barcelona outdid them by early March after surviving the Champions League round of 16 and beating Paris St. Germain, 6-1. That result was never expected after Barcelona lost 4-0 to P.S.G. on the road three weeks before.That deficit, despite Barcelona’s exceptional strike force, should have been insurmountable. No team had overcome it in the Champions League. P.S.G. would not allow more than three goals in any other game all season.

Against Barcelona, P.S.G. gave up three in the first 50 minutes before getting all the breathing space it appeared to need when Edinson Cavani scored in the 62nd minute to make it 3-1. Neymar, who had given his team a “1 percent chance” of advancing after the first leg, scored the next two, the first at the 88th minute and the second one minute into stoppage time on a penalty kick.

He then conjured the game-winner a few minutes later with a chipped pass into the P.S.G. penalty area that Sergi Roberto stabbed into the net with a lunging right-footed volley.

“Ce n’est pas possible! Ce n’est pas possible!” shouted the French television commentator Stéphane Guy on Canal Plus.

After five months in charge, Gareth Southgate lost his first England match with a 1-0 defeat in a friendly against Germany. The game will be remembered for Lukas Podolski’s stunning goal in his last appearance for his country.

Domestically, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea all reached the FA Cup semi-finals, with Arsenal drawing Manchester City and Tottenham drawing Chelsea. A lot was at stake for Arsenal and Manchester City as many deemed the FA Cup to be the only realistic chance of silverware either side could win in 2017.

In the ChampIons League, English teams struggled. Arsenal lost 5-1 home and away to Bayern Munich, Manchester City lost to Monaco on away goals after drawing 6-6 on aggregate. But Leicester’s European adventure continued, as they knocked out Sevilla to reach the quarter-finals.

April

Borussia Dortmund’s team bus was rocked by 3 explosions that caused defender Marc Bartra to need hospital treatment and forces the postponement of their champions league match with Monaco.

The FA Cup finalists were confirmed, with Chelsea beating Tottenham 4-2 and Arsenal seeing off Manchester City 2-1 after extra time, setting up a repeat of the 2002 final, which Arsenal had won 2-0.

But Chelsea’s hopes of a double took a dent when defeats to Crystal Palace and Manchester United saw their lead at the top of the table cut to four points, setting up a nervy final month of the campaign. Meanwhile, United set a club record by going 25 league games unbeaten, although they drew 12 of those games and remained adrift of the top four.

In Europe, Leicester’s thrilling Champions League run eventually came to an end with a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Atletico Madrid.

May

May bought a perfect invincible season for Celtic the second team to do so after the Arsenal team , Celtic defeated the Hearts team 2-0 to complete the undefeated season in Scottish Premier League.

Manchester United won the Europa League after defeating Ajax 2-0 and which guaranteed them a place in next year’s Champions League despite finishing 5th in the league, thus win came after 48 hours of a terrorist attack in Manchester and they dedicated this win to the victims.

Michy Batshuayi was the unlikely hero, confirming Chelsea’s fifth Premier League title with a late winner at West Brom. John Terry led the Blues out for the final time on the last day of the season, ahead of the 5-1 win over Sunderland which took Chelsea to 93 points, the second highest tally by a Premier League team, behind their own 95-point haul in 2004/05. They also set a record for most wins in a single season, taking three points from 30 of their 38 games.

However, Chelsea were unable to complete the double, losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal 2-1. That much-needed FA Cup triumph for Wenger meant he had won the trophy a record seven times and twice in the past three years, easing the pressure on his position. Indeed, a new two-year contract extension for the Arsenal boss was announced four days after the final – despite the Gunners missing out on the top four and failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Harry Kane finished as the league’s top scorer for the second season in a row, an achievement only matched by Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy. He finished with 29 goals and pipped Lukaku to the golden boot after scoring seven goals in his final two games of the campaign.

All league winners:

England: Chelsea

Spain: Real Madrid

Italy: Juventus

Germany: Bayern Munich

France: AS Monaco

June

Real Madrid have their hands on Champions League trophy after defeating Juventus, it ended, as it so often does, with that familiar smile. Cristiano Ronaldo – gelled hair, dazzling teeth, magic in his boots – will never forget the night he scored the 600th goal of an almost implausible career.

It was the moment everyone knew the Champions League trophy was on its way back to the Bernabéu and, once again, that the four-times Ballon d’Or winner had left his imprint on another final.

With the season over, clubs set about strengthening their squads, and Manchester City broke the world record for a goalkeeper when they signed Benfica’s Ederson for £35m, surpassing the £32.6m Juventus spent on Gianluigi Buffon 16 years earlier.

City’s rivals, Manchester United, made their first signing of the summer when they bought Victor Lindelof for £31m from Benfica. After strong rumours of Romelu Lukaku leaving, Everton then splashed out in June, spending a combined £53.6m on Jordan Pickford and Davy Klassen. However, it was their neighbours Liverpool who arguably made the signing of the summer, with the purchase of Mohamed Salah for £34m.

On the field, there was youth success for England, with the U20s winning the World Cup and becoming the first English side at any level to become world champions since 1966. England’s U21s weren’t so fortunate, missing out on a place in the final of their European competition after losing to Germany in a penalty shootout.

July

Arsenal broke their transfer record for the first time in four years when they signed Alexandre Lacazette for £52.6m from Lyon at the start of July. The deal eclipsed the £42.5m they had spent on Mesut Ozil.

Everton’s transfer haul continued as Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney re-joined his former side on July 9 on a free transfer. A day later Romelu Lukuku moved in the opposite direction for £75m, after months of speculation. Manchester City’s spending also went on, with Pep Guardiola paying out over £100m on full-backs, signing Danilo from Real Madrid for £26.5m before breaking the world record for a right-back and a left-back in signing Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy for £54 and £52m, respectively.

August

Amid complaints about the disruption the transfer window was causing in the opening weeks of the season, Premier League clubs voted in favour of ending the 2018 summer window before the 2018/19 campaign begins.

However, that didn’t slow down the spending this time around, with Liverpool paying Arsenal £35m for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chelsea spending £40m on Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Tottenham forking out £23m for PSG’s Serge Aurier on transfer deadline day. Although the Premier League broke their previous transfer window spending record with a £1.47 billion outlay, it was PSG who smashed the world record for one player, when they paid £198m for Barcelona’s Neymar. The French giants also signed Kylian Mbappe on loan with an option to buy for £166m next summer.

Amid a frantic window, the Premier League kicked off in style, with Arsenal beating Leicester 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller, before Lukaku, now the league’s most expensive striker, netted twice on his Premier League debut for Manchester United at Old Trafford. Kane’s August struggles returned, though, as he failed to score throughout the month.

September

After a perfect start to the season, Manchester United suffered a shock draw at Stoke in September, conceding for the first time in the new campaign in a 2-2 draw. But free-scoring Manchester City marched on, netting 17 goals in four games, including an impressive 1-0 win against champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Crystal Palace, who sacked new manager Frank de Boer after just 77 days and four league games in charge, broke an unwanted Premier League record by becoming the first team to lose their opening seven games in a row without scoring a single goal. On the international stage, England qualified for the World Cup in Russia by winning their qualifying group with an undefeated record.

October

Real Madrid’s Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the best soccer player in the world for the second year running at Fifa’s The Best awards gala.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins Best Fifa Men’s Player

Lieke Martens wins Best Fifa Women’s Player

Fifa XI is: Buffon; Marcelo, Bonucci, Ramos, Alves; Iniesta, Modric, Kroos; Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi

Celtic win Fifa Fans Award

Sarina Wiegman wins Best Fifa Women’s Coach

Zinedine Zidane wins Best Male Coach

Gigi Buffon wins Best Goalkeeper

Olivier Giroud wins Puskas Award for best goal

Ronald Koeman was dismissed by Everton after a poor run, while Craig Shakespeare suffered the same fate as Leicester struggled to recapture the form they showed when he first took charge. Claude Puel took the reins at the King Power Stadium.

In the League Cup, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Bristol City, Leicester, Manchester United, Chelsea and West Ham all reached the quarter-finals. And there was further success for England’s youth teams as they won their second youth World Cup in four months, with England’s U17s this time prevailing with a 5-2 triumph over Spain.

November

Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, which began on March 12, 2015, is over with the final 32 teams now known.

Qualified nations: Russia (hosts), Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay.

Tottenham shocked back-to-back Champions League winners Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley, confirming their place in the knockout phases for the first time since 2010/11. However, in the Premier League Pochettino’s men began to slip off the pace, with a run of one win in six games stretching from late October to the start of December.

Underperforming West Ham and West Brom sacked their managers, Slaven Bilic and Tony Pulis, but Burnley continued to defy the odds and their critics, with their best start to a Premier League season seeing them move in and around the top four, as Arsenal became the latest team to lose to Guardiola’s relentless Manchester City. After securing their place to Russia 2018, England played in two friendlies against Germany and Brazil. With a handful of first-team regulars dropping out of the side due to injuries, Gareth Southgate handed out international debuts to Tammy Abraham, Joe Gomez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford and England drew both games 0-0.

December

Ballon d’Or 2017: Cristiano Ronaldo wins prestigious award for fifth time to equal Lionel Messi’s record haul.

Real Madrid had Cristiano Ronaldo to thank once more as they beat Grêmio 1-0 to clinch the FIFA Club World Cup for a third time, matching Barcelona’s record – and taking their tally of intercontinental titles to six.

The Premier League made history by becoming the first league to have five representatives in the Champions League knockout stages. Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham all topped their groups with Chelsea finishing as runners-up to Roma.

But City’s dominance domestically was underlined this month when they broke the record for consecutive league wins in a season and stretched their lead at the top of the table with significant victories over Manchester United and Tottenham.Meanwhile, Bristol City stunned Manchester United to move into the Carabao Cup semi-finals alongside Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal, showing that, despite Chelsea and Man City’s dominance in the league either side of the summer, football can still throw up plenty of surprises.

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