Football results from the pitch are unpredictable at times, but then, there are more aspects of football that are unpredictable and surprising at a time. However, these scenarios still play out, leaving football fans, enthusiasts, and critics in awe. These surprises make the game of football entertaining and unique in its own way.
Before the season commenced across Europe, many seasoned and experienced pundits and analysts gave their predictions on how the football results and occurrences across major leagues in Europe would pan out. Fast forward to now the season has ended in almost all the top major leagues except the Serie A (Juve are champions already) and see how well their predictions have gone.
We on our part have taken to time to select our top 7 significant occurrences that would pass for surprises before the season began and we have mentioned them below. Did you see them coming?
1. LEONARDO JARDIM AND MONACO: Did you see them coming? Who would have thought the Portuguese manager’s tutored side would emerge as Ligue 1 champions. In a season where PSG thought they would have it all, and had their eyes fixed on UCL glory, with the acquisition of Unai Emery thinking they had their domestic competitors sorted out, Jardim’s boys emerged with Falcao leading the pack as the captain. Who would have made Falcao a captain after his poor stint with Chelsea? Well, Jardim would! He did, and it paid off as Monaco went into the semis of the UCL before being eliminated by a solid Juventus. They went ahead and won the French Ligue 1 title with an 8 points difference over second-placed PSG. They garnered the most points domestically across Europe’s top 5 leagues (95), scoring 107 goals, 24 more than PSG.
2. ANTONIO CONTE AND CHELSEA: The London side had their most horrible season since the arrival of Roman Abramovich in 2015/2016. They went from a season where their fans prayed for a fast ending to a season where they went on to win the title against all odds under the management of the touchline fiery and exciting Antonio Conte in his first season in the PL, racking up 30 wins, a record number of wins in the Premier League in a single season. They still stand a chance of winning the double as they face Arsenal at Wembley in the FA Cup final match
3. RB LEIPZIG: A newly promoted side from the 2nd tier of German club football to the Bundesliga that almost gave Bayern Munich a run for their money, albeit, quality speaking for Bayern. They finished in the top 2 above the likes of BVB, Schalke 04 and Hoffenheim as they sealed automatic qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League. Who saw that coming?
4. N’GOLO KANTE: The Frenchman has now won the Premier League title twice consecutively with two different sides. The defensive midfielder also ended up winning the PFA Players’ Player of the year award and the FWA Player of the year, beating more exciting attackers and players in the process. That’s us mentioning the significant individual laurels. Who would have thought!
5. ARSENAL for the first time failed to make it to the UEFA Champions League as they finished 5th on the log in a season where everyone thought they could make a difference after finishing as runners-up in the previous season and also adding some quality to the side.
6. MOURINHO AND MANCHESTER UNITED relying on a Europa League final win against Ajax to have a shot at the UCL next season is a major surprise. This comes after spending millions to bring in some quality to the side. They also had the most expensive player ever in the squad. Who would have thought! Especially with the arrival of Jose Mourinho and the acquisitions that were made.
7. CRISTIANO RONALDO AND THE UCL SCORING RECORD: Who would have thought an aging CR7 would create another significant record of his own by being the first to reach the 100 goal landmark in the competition?
8. PEP GUARDIOLA’S MAN CITY: The Spanish tactician came into the Premier League as City’s manager with the hype surrounding him. His side started the season fiercely but ended up fighting for a place in the UCL. Guardiola’s City ended up without a trophy this season, a stark contrast to his introduction to other leagues before the PL, where his sides would monopolize all the available trophies. SURPRISE!
These are just a few of the notable surprises of the 2016/2017 season we have captured so far across Europe. To be continued…..