It’s been a funny old year. And by funny I mean horrendous, for politics, the environment, and for celebrity deaths. But never mind all that, one thing that never fails to give us a reason to smile is football. Here’s three things that the beautiful game has taught us over the past year.
Never Doubt an Underdog
The first half of 2016 belonged to Leicester City. Under the wing of Claudio Ranieri, they became Premier League Champions at odds of 5000/1. If there is one thing that Leicester’s famous title win taught us, it is that even in an age of bewildering transfer fees and super-clubs, any team can still win.
Since then Leicester have seemingly inspired more teams around Europe to challenge the dominant clubs. At the end of 2016, RB Leipzig are a win away from Bayern Munich. In Ligue 1, OGC Nice sit five points above last year’s runaway winners, PSG.
When Done Right, Three-at-the-Back is a Winner
As covered in last week’s article, Conte’s 3-4-3 is currently tearing up the Premier League. Few managers have flirted with similar formations before, and fewer still have succeeded. Pep Guardiola is proof that even the best coaches struggle, with his attempt to rotate between a three and four man defence at Bayern Munich being hit-and-miss at best. When coming up against Barcelona in the Champions League, Bayern found out the hard way that the best teams will exploit any extra space left by an absence of full backs. This makes Chelsea’s 2016 squad all the more impressive as they have shown the rest of the world how it’s done.
Some are just in it for the money
The news in July that Graziano Pelle swapped Southampton for Shandong shocked and angered many. The Chinese club offered Pelle an eye-watering £260,000 a week, making him the sixth best-paid player in the world. With Carlos Tevez now making the swap, China now has four out of the top ten best paid players in the world and throws up arguments to debate (and possibly future articles…). The fact remains that for all the passion in football, some are just in it to make a living.
Photos licensed for reuse: Google images