As 2021 comes to an end, football in this year was surely interesting and full of surprises. From the appointment of Thomas Tuchel by Chelsea to Italy winning the Euros and Lionel Messi winning the Ballon D’or being just a few of the main highlights of 2021, this year had many more events which will truly be remembered in the future.
The Main Highlights Of 2021
Thomas Tuchel Joins Chelsea
After surprisingly getting sacked by French club Paris Saint Germain in December 2020, Chelsea announced early in 2021 that Thomas Tuchel will take over as manager after the sacking of Frank Lampard by Chelsea. The german manager was not welcomed so well by fans but that all changed after a series of interesting results.
Chelsea under Lampard were struggling after a great 2019/20 season. However, the large amount of money spent in the transfer window, bringing in several world class players saw Lampard struggling to find the right shape of the team. This lead to disappointing results which eventually got him sacked. Chelsea went on to replace him with Thomas Tuchel who brought many surprises and tricks with him. A series of great results in the Premier League followed by the elimination of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League showed the level of Thomas Tuchel coaching abilities. This did not stop here, Chelsea went on to eliminate Porto and then eliminate Real Madrid in the semi finals to reach the Champions League final for the first time since 2012. Chelsea’s Tuchel went all the way to beat Manchester City in an all English final in Portugal to lift the Champions League.
Thomas Tuchel truly showed the level he’s in, and most importantly he proved to the world that Paris Saint Germain made a big mistake sacking him. A great performance from Chelsea that carried on to this season makes Tuchel joining Chelsea be one of the main highlights of this year.
Inter End Juventus Dominance
After nine years of Juventus dominance on the league, Inter Milan, led by Antonio Conte captured the Serie A title after a tough battle with city rivals AC Milan. Antonio Conte alongside a variety of great players, managed to steal the show in the Italian League with both play style and game scores. With the speed of Ashraf Hakimi, the athleticism of Nicolo Barella and the link up between Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, Inter Milan dominated most games they played.
Juventus on the other hand under the management of club legend Andrea Pirlo looked kind of “clueless” on the field. The main problems they had were not only the fact that Pirlo managing Juventus was his first ever managerial job, but the random players they signed made it worse for Juventus throughout the season. Out of form fullbacks and a weak midfield made Juventus suffer a lot this season despite having Cristiano Ronaldo who ended up being top goal scorer in Italy. The club barely made it to the Champions League after heroic games from Ronaldo in that season.
Lilles’ Surprise And Bayern Still Dominating
It comes to no surprise that Paris Saint Germain were number one contenders for the league. However, Lille, lead by French manager Christophe Galtier, managed to pull out a surprise and finish at the top of the league. Their stunning performance during the season in addition to PSG losing points at the start of the season were factors in Lilles’ victory. It is important to mention that Lille not only had great performances, but they also had experienced players such as Burak Yilmaz who was the main man in the offensive side of the team. Lilles’ Ligue 1 triumph would surely make it to the main highlights of this season.
As for Bayern winning Bundesliga, that’s nothing new. Bayern showed the world that there is a huge gap between them and the other German teams. They have better managers, better cash flow and most importantly better players. Speaking about how they won the league wouldn’t be that important as this is their 9th consecutive league title. Bayern also had high hopes of winning the Champions League but after a dramatic game against Paris Saint Germain, they were knocked out at the quarter final stage.
Denmark – Euro 2021
After a sad start to the tournament with the collapse of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen who suddenly fell to the ground after suffering a heart related issue, heroic acts from the Danish and the Finish medical teams saw them saving the life of Eriksen. It is important not to forget the heroic acts of Danish captain Simon Kjaer and the Danish and Finnish national teams when they played a part in rescuing Eriksen.
This was truly a sad moment in football. Eriksen is now well and ready to come back to play football although his contract with Inter Milan has been terminated by mutual consent. Denmark may not have won the tournament but they managed to reach the semi finals and win the hearts football fans across the globe. Denmarks heroism and determination was certainly one of the main highlights of 2021.
Italy Come Back To Win Euros
After a strong period of time under Antonio Conte during the Euros in 2016, the Italian national team went through a lot of obstacles during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Italy finished second in the group which meant that they would head off to play Sweden in the play-offs. However, Italy lost to Sweden which meant that they would miss out on the World Cup. The Italian Federation made a decision to appoint ex-Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini to lead them in their next adventure.
Mancini was able to lead Italy to their second Euros title after 53 years and their first international title since 2006. A great performance from the Italian team throughout the tournament saw them defeat the likes of Belgium, Spain and England (in the final) to win the trophy. Mancini did not only bring back the trophy to Italy but he was able to create a wonderful team full of passion for the badge. He also introduced some great players in the likes of Locatelli, Federico Chiesa and many more. Italy’s great performance saw their Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarruma named as the best player in the tournament.
It is important to mention that after the Euros Italy went on to achieve another record which is going 37 games unbeaten in a row.
Lionel Messi Finally Wins An International Trophy
This years Copa America held in Brazil saw Lionel Messi and Argentina win the title for the first time in 28 years. Messi after three Copa America finals alongside the 2014 World Cup final, finally managed to lift a trophy for his country. Not only that but Messi probably produced one of the best ever individual performances for any player in a tournament. With four goals and five assists, Messi received both the top scorer and top assists award alongside the best player of the tournament. This is a moment surely no football fan will forget.
Lionel Messi Leaves Barcelona And Ronaldo Returns ‘Home’
In an unexpected turn of events, Lionel Messi left Barcelona after reports were mentioning that he would sign a new contract. However, with Barcelona’s financial crisis, Messi was’t able to stay at Barcelona which made him leave and join French giants Paris Saint Germain. Barcelona was the team he grew up in and the team that he managed to win everything with. It was the team that Messi wanted to stay in forever but the financial crisis was not looked at in the correct way and that lead to extra problems, but Messi leaving is surely the biggest of those problems. As this new season has started it is clear to how much Messi had an effect on Barcelona. The team crashed out of the Champions League group stages and currently they sit in seventh place in La Liga.
On another hand, Cristiano Ronaldo surprisingly left Juventus to join the club that brought him to to the spotlight in Manchester United. After Ronaldo announced that he was leaving Juventus, all the arrows were pointing towards Manchester City. However, several events escalated so quickly in such a small period of time saw Ronaldo join the red part of Manchester. His start at the club so far has been amazing for a 36 year old. He currently has 13 goals and 2 assists this season. His goals were vital for Manchester United this season as he was able to carry them through the Champions League group stage.
This was a transfer window to remember with two of the best players of all time changing clubs in the same transfer window.
Lionel Messi Wins The Ballon D’or
November of 2021 saw Lionel Messi win the Ballon D’or. The award that caused lots of arguments and controversy around it. Up until July, Lionel Messi was the best player in the world. However, since his transfer to PSG, he hasn’t really showed up yet. This was a main argument which some football fans held against Messi for winning the Ballon D’or over Robert Lewandowski who scored lots of goals. The Ballon D’or , as usual, always brings some controversy around it. The award criteria is not always clear and the voting system is not quite right. However, all individual awards are like this. The voting system or the criteria is not always clear, and that will always cause controversy at some point.
With 2021 now at a close, what will be the main highlights of 2022 as we head into a World Cup year.
Main Image Credit Embed from Getty Images