2016: THE UNEXPECTED YEAR

The year is coming to a end with a lot to highlight. It can clearly be considered as the resurgence of Real Madrid but not everything is about “Los Blancos” after all. England and South America provided the football world with memorable moments of their own and deserve a mention. This year without any doubt taught us that football goes beyond the team you support, reminding everyone that this is once again “The beautiful game”. I can be wrong but it’s the general idea that I managed to gather these past 12 months

Let me begin with the historic campaign made by Leicester City in England. They began the 15/16 season after saving themselves from relegation but had lost their coach three weeks before. Claudio Ranieri was appointed but not many trusted him after his turbulent past with Chelsea. The season had Chelsea back with Mourinho, Manchester City had Peligrini with a solid team, Liverpool with “the normal one” Kopp and Manchester United with Van gaal and Radamel Falcao. The “foxes” defied the odds after finding inspiration from a man by the name of Jamie Vardy along with Kante and Mahrez to rewrite history in the most competitive league in the world. The team was worth half of the total value paid by a single player by Manchester city and Vardy was playing amateur soccer 4 years prior. It had the perfect script for a underdog story, Ranieri guided the team to the championship after beating the top 4 teams with quality over quantity. In the end Vardy broke scoring records and Leicester city became champions beating a 1000/1 odd winning the hearts of every football fan around the world proving that hard work does pay off and dreams do come true.

The Euro 2016 tournament followed and yet again proved to have moments of shocking surprises. The teams to follow were England, France, Italy, Spain and the world champions Germany. Everything was set for it to be one of the most evenly matched euros in recent years but instead it marked the end of the road for the dominant “tiki taka” style of Spain by a fast passed Italy that didn’t miss Pirlo. None other than ICELAND humiliated England! I know I still can’t believe it myself, and last but not least Portugal made it trough the final winning a single game. Gareth Bale along Wales and Iceland were the highlights of the tournament due to their success despite being in the tournament for the first time. Cristiano Ronaldo gave Portugal the title that avoided them in 2004 by being the key player the entire tournament regardless of missing the final against France. They might have not played well but without Big names that matched Cristiano, Portugal were champions of Europe for the first time ever.

Real Madrid had a turbulent start but gave a chance to an unlikely figure that would return them to the winning path. I call it the Zidane effect, simply because he took the team without any managerial experience in a top football division and made them lethal once again. He obtained “La undecima” after beating Atletico Madrid on penalties securing the managerial spot for the current season. The style that he promotes is not the most approvable at least for me but he placed Madrid on top of the League so you can’t really complain. The team found a new hero since Zidane took part of the Real Madrid structure, Sergio Ramos to be more exact. He scored the equalizing goal in the last few games for Madrid saving them from humiliating defeats. The most important one has been the goal against Barcelona to keep them in first place. The Zidane effect has closed a winning year for Real Madrid, as they became club world champions thanks to a late scoring run from the recently named “ Best player in the world” Cristiano Ronaldo. The quality of the squad formed by Zidane can’t be questioned at least for now, but as long as they keep winning his methods are untouchable. The question now is if they can maintain this form until June, great year from them regardless of what happens.

To conclude this sort of long blog the unforgettable Chapecoense will have my last and most special mention. I wont go into much details again since I already wrote about them in my last entry but what they achieved is nothing but special. They were a small team representing the small Brazilian town of Chapeco in their first ever-international final but destiny had different plans. The plane crash only left 3 members of the team alive but at the same time it united the world as never before and that’s something rarely achievable. The support the team received worldwide was admirable, Football associations offered free players to help them rebuilt, tributes worldwide haven’t stopped and what’s more amazing is the fact that the surviving players have made an impressive recovery. They were declared champions of this year Copa Sudamericana, that’s secondary in comparison on how much admiration such a small club is receiving. Its true that its not the best way to end this blog but my intention is to give you a chance to look ahead not only to what this team can achieve in the future, but to what 2017 and the upcoming tournaments have in store for us.

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