“Spurs underachieved in seventh despite individual gains for their star striker Harry Kane who won his third Premier League Golden Boot as well as the top assist-provider in the Premier League. Notably, he is the only the second man to do this. From all indications, he is a man looking to move on from his boyhood club”.
At the Estádio do Dragão in Portugal, Chelsea FC captain, Cesar Azpilicueta lifted the Champions League trophy. With that the curtains were drawn on the football season for European clubs. Chelsea triumphed over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to win their second Champions League trophy. Thomas Tuchel becomes the new football darling – master tactician, Pep-slayer, mastermind of the Chelsea turnaround. He had better enjoy it. Edouard Mendy became the first African goalkeeper to appear in a Champions League final and Christian Pulisic, the first American man to appear in, and win the Champion League final.
For his switching of City’s tactics, Pep is facing global opprobrium. Had City prevailed, the column inches would have declared him a football genius without equal. The night belonged to Chelsea. Simply put, the better side won. N’Golo Kanté is being rated as the ‘best in the world.’ Few can disagree because, among other statistics, City only managed one shot on target, a tribute to Chelsea’s defensive alertness. Cue tears for Sergio Aguero who was making his final appearance in blue after a decade of admirable service.
Kai Havertz’s first half goal put an end to a dream exit for Aguero who heads to Barcelona from next season. A few days before that in Gdańsk, Unai Emery’s Villareal won the Europa League 11-10 on penalties. The win over favourites on paper, Manchester United ,gave birth to numerous memes across the globe. The Champions League pot for the winner is slightly over $20m, a much-needed financial boost following the covid pandemic disruptions.
UEFA’s report, The European Club Football Landscape estimates that the pandemic has cost European football £7.5 billion over two seasons. For the better part of the Premier League season, matches were played behind closed doors. For over a year, fans could only watch matches on television. It is credit to football administration that the first full season could hold following the forced shutdown. And what a season it was – drama played out in the English, Spanish and Italian leagues on the last day. The German league went par for the course. Bayern Munich were league leaders, shocking no one.
Inter Milan won the scudetto, breaking Juventus’s nine-year Serie A stranglehold; Massimiliano Allegri is back at Juventus after what is for them an unsuccessful season. They squeezed into the Champions League places at the expense of Napoli who parted ways with Gattuso. Jose ‘The Special One-turned Ordinary One’ is back in Italy to manage Roma.
We expect some quotable quotes from him. Managerial musical chairs remain a permanent ingredient in football. In Spain, Atletico Madrid disrupted the Barcelona-Real Madrid baton changes, last doing so in 2014 and the only team to have achieved this feat in nearly two decades. It went down to the wire but Diego Simeone’s side triumphed on the last day. Zidane 2.0 came to an almost immediate end, with eyes on who his successor will be.
In a dramatic last day of the English Premier League, EPL, third position changed several times over ninety minutes, given that Liverpool and Leicester were level on points going into the thirty-eight game. Ultimately, a Leicester collapse and a Liverpool surge settled it. Liverpool finished third and Chelsea fourth, Leicester losing out for a second consecutive season, after coming tantalisingly close. David Moyes led West Ham to an impressive sixth. Spurs underachieved in seventh despite individual gains for their star striker Harry Kane who won his third Premier League Golden Boot as well as the top assist-provider in the Premier League. Notably, he is the only the second man to do this. From all indications, he is a man looking to move on from his boyhood club.
Other changes in the EPL see Roy Hodgson leaving Crystal Palace and indeed football after four decades in the sport. Widely liked and respected, everyone will wish him a happy retirement. Goodbyes also to Sam Allardyce who was unable to keep West Brom in the Premier League, gentle Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves. Brentford become first timers in the EPL, joining Watford and Norwich who were automatically promoted.
In the football off season, fans usually look forward to transfer activity. However, with the rescheduled 2020 Euros round the corner, they can expect a healthy dose of football mania, surprises and more.
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