2016 – A Year In Football

2016 – A Year In Football
Dec 21, 2016

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As Christmas approaches, a new calendar year is on the horizon, so it is time to reflect on the past year of football. From miracles to tragedies, 2016 had it all.

JANUARY 2016

DR Congo win the African Cup of Nations – Although the final was played on the 7th February, the tournament began in January, and as there were limited notable footballing events to occur in the month of January, so mentioning DR Congo’s triumph in Rwanda was fitting. Winning saw them pick up their second AFCON title, as they managed to overshadow African heavyweights, Ivory Coast and Cameroon and ultimately came out victors following a comfortable 3-0 win over Mali in the final.

The month also featured a less than emphatic transfer window, while in other news Swansea City appointed Italian manager Francesco Guidolin to work alongside caretaker manager Alan Curtis.

FEBRUARY 2016

February saw Manchester City pick up their 4th league cup title, after beating Liverpool 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in normal time. Fernandinho opened the scoring for City in the 49th minute before Phillipe Coutinho scored an 83rd-minute equaliser for the reds. Willy Caballero was the hero for City as he saved two penalties in the shootout which saw City triumph 3-1.

MARCH 2016

Leicester City went through another month unbeaten and slip-ups from Manchester City, Arsenal, and Spurs saw them moving ever so closer to the once-unthinkable which was now becoming reality, winning the Premier League. The Foxes started the month with a 2-2 draw with West Brom before 1-0 wins over Watford, Newcastle and Crystal Palace saw them cement their position at the top of the Premier League.

APRIL 2016

Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund – April saw Liverpool stage one of the most dramatic comebacks that Anfield, and the world for that matter, has ever witnessed. They entered their Europa League quarter-final second leg against German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund with a 1-1 score on aggregate, however, Dortmund weren’t messing around, and took just five minutes to gain the advantage, with current Manchester United player Henrikh Mkhitaryan coolly slotting home. Dortmund then went two ahead just four minutes later, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring after the away side staged a quick breakaway. Divock Origi gave the reds hope in the second half with a 48th-minute strike which went through Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller’s legs, however, any hope of a comeback was surely wiped away when Marco Reus increased Dortmund’s advantage with a 57th-minute strike. What happened in the following 30 minutes was truly a sensational spectacle and one that football fans around the globe will not be able to erase from their memory. Phillipe Coutinho gave Liverpool a slither of hope when he scored a driven shot in the 66th minute, and when Mamadou Sakho headed in after 77 minutes to make it 4-4, the fans could sense that something amazing was about to happen. Liverpool piled on the pressure and managed to win a corner in the 91st minute. The stage was set for another famous Liverpool comeback. The corner was whipped in by James Milner and Dejan Lovren rose to head home the stoppage time winner in front of the Kop. This was a match that will take its place in Anfield folklore for centuries to come.

MAY 2016

If you thought that was crazy enough, then the events which occurred in May will certainly change your mind. Tottenham had to beat Chelsea to maintain any hope of beating Leicester to the Premier League title, and this seemed ever more likely when Spurs took a 2-0 lead in the first half after goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Gary Cahill scored a 58th-minute goal to spark the Chelsea comeback, and the social media world was sent into raptures when Eden Hazard scored an 83rd-minute screamer that would confirm Leicester City as Premier League champions. Leicester began the 2015-16 campaign as 5000-1 outsiders, and when Claudio Ranieri was appointed as Leicester managed, Gary Lineker couldn’t help taking to twitter to broadcast his anguish with a simple tweet which read ‘Claudio Ranieri? Really?’ However, all doubters of the Italian were silenced when he took his Leicester side to new heights, demonstrating that team spirit really can win you titles  Sevilla went on to win their 5th Europa League title after beating Liverpool 3-1 in Basel.

JUNE 2016

June saw the start of the 15th European Championship, which was hosted by France. The tournament featured many surprise qualifiers such as Albania, Wales, and Hungary. Wales were second favourite to qualify for the knockouts in their group, behind rivals England, however, some people doubted the ability of Chris Coleman’s side and questioned whether they would be able to make it at a major tournament. However, all doubters were silenced when Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu helped Wales to a 2-1 win over Slovakia in the opening game of Group B. They went on to top their group, despite losing to England following a 92nd-minute winner by Daniel Sturridge. Group F also saw big upsets, with Hungary topping the group and Iceland coming second, with both teams recording one win and two draws respectively, over heavy favourites Portugal and Austria, the latter being knocked out of the tournament after picking up just one point in a draw with Portugal. When England were drawn against Iceland in the round of 16, most fans generally expected the outcome to be a comfortable win for England, however, Iceland showed that like Leicester, team spirit and togetherness can overcome the toughest of opposition, and the minnows managed to emerge 2-1 victors.

JULY 2016

After recording what is now widely considered one of the team’s most historic victories, a 3-1 win over Belgium, Wales were knocked out of the Euros by Portugal, who had failed to win in 90 minutes in all of their previous knockout stage matches. This win saw them reach the final of the Euros, where they would play hosts France, who triumphed over Germany in their semi-final. The game was taken to extra time after the teams played out a 0-0 draw in 90 minutes, with neither team looking exceptionally good. The game looked to be heading to penalties until unlikely candidate Eder produced a moment of magic in the 117th minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead, and ultimately win them the 2016 Euros.

In other news, Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced that his next destination would be none other than Manchester United. He took to twitter to make his announcement, saying “I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

AUGUST 2016

The 25th season of the Premier League began, and the opening weekend showed why the Premier League is widely regarded as the best league in the world. Newly promoted Hull City stunned champions Leicester with a 1-0 win, but the game of the weekend has to be the heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. Many had predicted Arsenal to win the league this year, and while they obviously still can, they were brought down to earth by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in an emphatic 4-3 away win for the reds, which featured an inch-perfect Phillipe Coutinho free kick, and a brilliant run by new signing Sadio Mane, which was finished off with a peach of a strike into the top corner.

SEPTEMBER 2016

Leicester City opened their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 away win over Club Brugge, before beating FC Porto 1-0 at home. This was also a great month for Liverpool, they beat champions Leicester 4-1 at home, before beating Chelsea 2-1 away and then demolishing Hull 5-1 at home.

OCTOBER 2016

Chelsea finished the month having scored 11 goals and conceding 0, with 4 wins out of 4. This took Antonio Conte’s side to the top of the Premier League where they still sit following an 11 game run of consecutive wins. The success behind it was Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 after Arsenal embarrassed their London rivals 3-0. The Italian’s reign over Chelsea has already wiped clean the ghost of Jose Mourinho, as Chelsea fans follow Conte’s Chelsea.

NOVEMBER 2016

On the 28th November, a plane carrying the 2016 Copa Sudamericana finalists, crashed as it approached the Jose Maria Cordova International Airport near Medellin, Colombia. The flight was carrying 77 passengers, including the entire first team, coaches, the manager, and journalists. All but six of the passengers died immediately, and only three Chapecoense players survived their injuries. The team was awarded the Sudamericana title upon the request of their opponents Atletico National and the deaths of the players were mourned throughout the world.

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