10 Footballing moments in 2017 that took your breath away!
Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva
A successful UCL title defence, Neymar shifting his base, Guardiola establishing a defence costlier than Bosnia’s and Congo’s army budget, Zlatan winning a European trophy and what not; 2017 hit everybody like a tracer bullet.
From a player being bought at a cost greater than 13 Premier League squads to a player breaking the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, from a club making a historic comeback in our known existence to a minor nation upsetting World Cup giants for their 2018 FIFA World Cup berth, 2017 had it all. You name it, we saw it.
2017 witnessed the most insane transfer window, fiery matches, unforeseen sacking and a fairytale World Cup qualifying round that saw teams like Iceland and Panama book their first-ever ticket to a World Cup, adding to it were the teams like Egypt and Morocco who have returned after an absence of nearly a couple of decades in the quadrennial event.
All in all, 2017 was a bumper packet for everyone and if in any rare scenario you were dreaming the whole 52 weeks then this is what you need right now. The list of the most important events from the last 365 days is here.
Jose Mourinho won the only trophy that Sir Alex Ferguson could not!
In his 26 years' managerial stint, Sir Alex Ferguson earned many accolades, a total of 39 trophies (the Intercontinental Cup win of 1999 is now considered reinstated as the FIFA Club World Cup trophy) whilst managing the Red Devils. He is arguably one of the best football managers ever, but he lacked just a single silverware that barred Manchester United from 'completing' their trophy cabinet.
Jose Mourinho won the Europa League with Manchester United in May this year. Though Sir Alex Ferguson has featured in this tournament several times, he could only reach till the Round of 16. The Europa League win is often deemed as a sub-par trophy for a European Giant like Manchester United but it is the best they could achieve it under the circumstances. The same trophy becomes the maiden European trophy Zlatan Ibrahimovic won in his 18-year old professional career.
A night in Paris dismantles the Munich empire
Sacking a commander of a football club’s squad has now become synonymous with the cut-throat competition in the modern era. The ambition of the boards, owners, and the fans are now making the lives of managers a living hell. They live their lives with an uncertainty of being kicked out by a downfall even in a single game.
Carlo Ancelotti was scrutinized for his tactics when Real Madrid cut Bayern Munich out in the quarterfinal stage in UCL 2016-17 and the final nail in the coffin came in when the revamped side of Paris Saint-German humiliated them with 3 goals to nil.
What did not go well with the Munich faithful was the underutilization of their legends. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were rarely used and were barred from playing the whole 90 minutes on most occasions. Having a second to none squad and yet, declining results forced the board to reinstate their legendary manager, Jupp Heynckes. Since then, they have just lost a single game.
B Squad winning a major International trophy
FIFA Confederation Cup 2017 was a monumental target for the likes of Chile and Portugal but for Joachim Low, it was the best possible way to train his proxy squad. The German International coach went to Russia with a 23-man squad without his senior squad. The most senior player in terms of international match experience was the captain himself, Julian Draxler with 30 appearances and aged just 23.
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As a matter of fact, just 5 players were above the age of 25 years at that time. The young contingent dominated the whole event, winning the trophy in the end. The 3 top scorers of the 8 Nations tournament were all German internationals. Is it a sign for the world that Germany is going to dominate for a longer period than the speculated?
A UCL title defence is now a reality
We are not accustomed to witnessing a one-sided UEFA Champions League final, at least not one in the last decade and that too, in regulation time. Eclipsing that, Real Madrid successfully defended their UCL title for the first time ever in the history of the game.
The journey of Real Madrid's title defence
Real Madrid stuck 4 goals and conceded once on 3rd June to make history of their own. They went on win a couple of more trophies completing their Quadruple with only the Copa del Rey, not in their hands.
Cristiano Ronaldo ruled almost the whole of the year by becoming the first player to surpass the 100 goals benchmark in the UCL history. His exploits saw him lift the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA Player of the year award in the last couple of years.
By far the greatest comeback in football's history
It is not every year that Barcelona trail by 4 goals on aggregate in the Round of 16 stage of the European competition. They lost 4 goals to nil against Paris Saint-German in the first leg of that stage and everybody expected the French club to proceed, but sheer determination and hard work changed everything.
Relive the scenes from Camp-Nou
PSG arrived at Camp Nou with a mountainous lead but MSN were ready for their opponents. Barcelona needed to score 5 goals to go through and the French club needed to put in just a single goal to activate the away goal clause so that they would go through in that scenario.
By the hour mark of the game, Barca led with 3 goals to nil and the flow was abrupted by a goal from Edinson Cavani at 62 minutes. It was down to the last 7 minutes that Barcelona pulled a heroic turn of events. A free kick goal at the 88th minute, a penalty at 90th and finally a flying finish from the sublime Sergi Roberto in the dying seconds of injury time created history and sunk the club from the French capital into oblivion.
A Player at a cost of 62 Zinedine Zidane
A Sweet revenge though. After Barcelona faithful mocked PSG fans and players on social media, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi remained silent and in positive awaiting rage for the then-upcoming transfer window. Come June, Barcelona came to Paris knocking their doors asking for Verratti and Thiago Silva but the wounds of that defeat were so fresh that Nasser did the unimaginable.
He bought the future of the Catalan club. Neymar was pipped to succeed Lionel Messi and become the sailor of the ship that is Barcelona but Nasser activated his buy-out clause of €222 Million and shook the fraternity. While everybody focused on the Brazilian, PSG swooped in Kylian Mbappe on a loan with a fixed transfer amount of £169 million to be duly paid in the next summer transfer window.
India’s first ever goal in the FIFA World Cup
“Forget Cricket, Football is the future of India. I’m joking, but Football is the future of India.” - FIFA President Gianni Infantino
48,184 fans cheering for India against Colombia in FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017
It is not often that a FIFA President is confident of a country’s potential to make it big in the kick and ball sport and gives a major statement like this. India made history, hosting the first ever FIFA World Cup. Though India could not capitalize on the big occasion, it certainly broke hefty records.
Jeakson Singh became the first ever Indian player to score at FIFA event with his header from a corner against Colombia in the group stage. Indian did not win even a single match but won a billion hearts.
U-17 FIFA World Cup 2017 broke the attendance records of several renowned tournaments including the jewel of Indians, the Cricket World Cup of 2011 that India hosted. The average attendance in 2011 World Cup was 25,098 but the 2017 World Cups hosted 25,906 people per match, proving that football is well received by the crowds. The footballing moment is getting a snowball effect with football leagues in India are now running parallel for the first time in the country’s history.
The future is bright for Queen’s citizens
If Germany and France can boast about their back up squads, then England can lay back and not worry about their future. English youths are on song after winning both of the youth tournaments that were hosted by India and South Korea. England U-20 did not lose a single game over the course of the tournament with Everton and Liverpool players Calvert-Lewin and Solanke taking the limelight.
The English U-17 squad featured players like Rhian Brewster, Jadon Sancho, Angel Gomes and Phil Foden who were already in the limelight after making appearances for their respective clubs. Brewster ended as the top scorer of the edition with 8 goals. Like their seniors, the Colts, too, did not lose a single match and always won in style. They averaged 3.2 goals per game in the tournament.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo bow down to their new ruler
Until the 52nd week of this year, Messi was leading the chart of scoring the most number of goals in the last 12 months but the then 3rd highest scorer had different plans. Harry Kane’s hattrick against Southampton on boxing day saw him overtake Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Arguably the greatest players of all time have dominated this statistic since 2009 with the highlighting factor being the 91 goals scored by Lionel Messi in 2012.
Harry Kane also surpasses the most number goals scored in Premier League in a calendar year record that was previously held by Alan Shearer with 39 goals.
9 goals by a minor team kicking Robben and Buffon out of the World Cup
Confused? Let us spill the beans for you. Sweden’s haul of 9 goals over 3 matches made sure that Italy and Netherlands' national team do not board a flight to Russia in June next year. Sweden ran amok against Luxembourg, thrashing 8 goals in 90 minutes to make the chances really slim for the Holland team to make it to the World Cup.
Top 10 memorable footballing moments of 2017
Before the last round of the qualifiers this October, Sweden were trailing by 3 points to make it to the play-off positions and to make the situation really grave for Holland, they beat Luxembourg with an 8 goal margin. For the final game, Netherlands and Sweden were to face each other and the Dutch team was bound to beat Sweden with at least 10 goals to make it through the playoff spot, which obviously did not happen.
The match ended with Dutchmen winning with a 2 goal difference and hence snapped Arjen Robben’s possibly last World Cup’s appearance. Sweden then played Italy in the play-offs sneaking from the occasion to proceed with 1-0 aggregate towards Russia, upsetting another World Cup giant and winning billions of plaudits.
Published: Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:49 AM IST