So, as the football season has concluded and drawn to a close, yet another year of cheering and booing; elation and discontent will be put on hold for another two months or so.
But what are the memorable and main events that have occurred in this season of 2016/17?
Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions for the second time in three years, finishing on 93 points – the Premier League trophy was blue once again! On May 27th, they also had the chance to win a domestic double, as they were in the FA Cup final against Arsenal at the famous Wembley Stadium (which has a capacity of 90,000!). However, they lost 2-1 to Arsenal and so Arsenal fans managed to forget some of the bitter hatred and impatience directed at their legendary manager Arsene Wenger who, for the first time in charge of Arsenal, finished 5th to miss out on qualifying for the Champions League.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham (provided Liverpool can get through one round of qualifying) will be in the Champions League group stage next season. However, at the other end of the table, fans of Sunderland, Middlesborough and Hull City were deeply saddened as their clubs were relegated to the Championship – with Sunderland ending a 10-year stay in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, across the border in Scotland, Celtic annihilated all of their opposition – not losing a domestic game all season – to win the league with a new points and goals record. They subsequently qualified for the Champions League and, in the final game of their season, came from a goal down to beat Aberdeen 2-1 at Hampden Park in Glasgow. This recent success, combined with their 3-0 hammering of Aberdeen in the League Cup final on November 27th, means that Celtic won the treble!
Rangers, on their return to the top flight, only managed to come third in an inconsistent, up-and-down season, with the red and white of Aberdeen finishing above them in the table, on 76 points (30 points behind the green and white hoops of Celtic).
The title race was, yet again, between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Real eventually coming out on top by 3 points in a thrilling season. However, Barça did redeem some dignity by beating Deportivo Aláves 3-1 in the Copa Del Rey final to win the trophy for a third time in succession.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the season started in a fascinating manner – almost newly formed RB Leipzig led favourites Bayern Munich by 6 points having played a game more, after 12 games. However, the experience of the German giants – who have now won the Bundesliga for 5 years in a row – shone through as they eventually won the division by 15 points. However, Bayern were knocked out of the German DFB cup by eventual winners Borussia Dortmund, who also managed to claim a Champions League spot.
However, the French league was not so ‘normal’. Favourites Paris San Germain (better known as PSG) had won 4 straight Ligue 1 titles but, at the end of last season, had lost top scorer and legendary talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United. However, it was clear that it would still take a monumental effort to usurp their supreme firepower and global status. Monaco subsequently delivered. They produced an astonishing league campaign to win the league by 8 points, but got annihilated in the French League Cup (Coupe de France) semi-final 5-0 by eventual winners PSG.
In the newly renamed Calcio A (formerly Serie A, Italy’s top league), it was ‘normal service resumed’ for giants Juventus who, with sublime young talent Paulo Dybala emerging in an amazing season, played some fantastic football and deservedly got to the final of the Champions League. They won Calcio A by 4 points from Roma and also beat Lazio 2-0 in the final of the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) to win the domestic double.
The rest of Europe
In Holland, Feyenoord beat Europa League finalists Ajax by a single point to win the Dutch Eredivisie, with Dirk Kuyt scoring a hat trick in that vital game. He subsequently announced his retirement. Manchester United produced a dominant performance to beat Ajax 2-0 in the final of the Europa League in Sweden, and Real Madrid produced a scintillating second-half performance to crush Italian champions Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff (Cristiano Ronaldo starring once again).
So all in all, a scintillating, pulsating season! With a British team once again winning a European trophy, who knows what will happen next season!?
In two months, it all starts again…