On the finish of one other 12 months of big-money transfers, historic triumphs, tragedy and scandal, ESPN FC brings you the highest tales of 2017.
Neymar joins PSG from Barcelona for world-record €222 million payment
Normally, when a megastar strikes from one mega-club to a different for a mega-fee, the deal is months and even years within the making and by the point the contract is signed it’s outdated information. However when Neymar was unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain participant on Aug. Four — and spoke to ESPN FC in regards to the transfer beside the Parc des Princes pitch — it was just 18 days after the primary information in regards to the switch had emerged and the soccer world was nonetheless in disbelief.
Barcelona tried and failed with a number of makes an attempt to signal Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to fill the void — they appear sure to strive once more subsequent summer season — and as an alternative turned to Borussia Dortmund prospect Ousmane Dembele for an preliminary payment of €105m.
Actual Madrid retain Champions League
Barcelona’s comeback in opposition to PSG was wonderful, however they nonetheless fell on the subsequent hurdle by succumbing to Juventus within the quarterfinal. Juve went all the way in which to the ultimate in Cardiff, and have been degree at 1-1 at half-time, however a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Actual Madrid hit again to win Four-1 and change into the primary membership within the Champions League period to retain the trophy.
That triumph prolonged Madrid’s report haul of European Cup wins to 12, and Zinedine Zidane gained the competitors for the second time in simply 18 months as a top-flight head coach.
Italy, United States, Netherlands fail to qualify for World Cup
In October, there was a serious shock in World Cup qualifying as the U.S. failed to achieve subsequent 12 months’s finals in Russia by shedding 2-1 in Trinidad & Tobago. That defeat allowed each Panama (with the assistance of a ghost aim) and Honduras to qualify forward of them from the CONCACAF area however, extra considerably, it meant the Individuals wouldn’t be at a World Cup for the primary time since 1986 and led to U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati asserting he wouldn’t search re-election for the submit.
However there was one other shock to come back the next month when Italy misplaced to Sweden of their qualification playoff. It meant that the four-time world champions won’t be at a World Cup for the primary time since 1958, and led to goalkeeping nice Gianluigi Buffon’s tearful announcement that he could be retiring from worldwide soccer with fast impact.
Netherlands have been one other main European nationwide workforce to fail to achieve Russia, though the Dutch may at the least level to their ladies’s workforce successful the 2017 European Championship on residence soil as some motive to rejoice.
Ronaldo beats Messi to main awards
The last decade-long grasp on world soccer’s prime particular person awards by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continued in 2017, with the previous popping out on prime this 12 months within the working for each the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s The Finest Males’s Participant award.
Ronaldo was rewarded for main Actual Madrid to glory within the Champions League and La Liga, though followers in Argentina might effectively worth Messi’s heroic hat trick to safe the nationwide workforce’s place in Russia subsequent 12 months above any solo prize he may have claimed.
Each superstars additionally garnered loads of column inches speculating about their futures, with Ronaldo’s representatives letting it’s identified that the Portugal captain was contemplating a transfer out of Spain resulting from his tax case and Messi leaving it till late within the 12 months earlier than signing a brand new contract with Barcelona.
Manchester Metropolis make historical past with successful streak
Manchester Metropolis surpassed Arsenal’s report successful run in English top-flight soccer in early December with a Four-Zero victory at Swansea Metropolis to make it 15 Premier League wins in a row. Pep Guardiola’s facet have since prolonged that streak to 18 victories (and counting), and so they additionally set a brand new report for consecutive wins in all competitions this season, a run which ended at 20 matches with defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk within the Champions League of their last, meaningless group recreation.
This Metropolis facet have a behavior of breaking data — Sergio Aguero broke the membership’s all-time scoring report in November, netting his 178th aim, in a Champions League win over Napoli.
One other record-breaker in December can be Arsenal supervisor Arsene Wenger, who will surpass Sir Alex Ferguson’s 810 Premier League matches within the dugout when the Gunners play at West Bromwich Albion on New Yr’s Eve.
Barcelona full historic comeback vs. PSG
Barcelona made the not possible attainable in March, as they recorded the best comeback in Champions League historical past by hammering Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 on the Camp Nou to achieve the quarterfinals by successful the tie 6-5 on combination with three late objectives.
Barca have been staring elimination within the face after shedding the primary leg Four-Zero on the Parc des Princes, however Sergi Roberto’s winner deep into stoppage time accomplished a shocking reversal that also regarded off the playing cards when Edinson Cavani’s second-half strike gave PSG a treasured away aim.
The victory was celebrated with such gusto in Catalonia that a minor earthquake within the space was registered on the Richter scale.
Chapecoense attain Copa Libertadores one 12 months after air crash tragedy
When Brazilian membership Chapecoense have been concerned in a airplane crash that left 19 of their gamers among the many 71 fatalities final November, soccer united round them. The total impression of the tragedy will scar the membership and the town of Chapeco for generations, as ESPN’s Sam Borden discovered when he met a few of these affected.
However a 12 months on and Chapecoense triumphed over adversity in inspirational method. In November they managed to keep away from relegation from the Brazilian first division regardless of having to start out the season with nearly a wholly new squad and only a few weeks later they managed to safe a spot in subsequent 12 months’s Copa Libertadores, setting a membership report of 9 video games unbeaten within the Campeonato Brasileiro alongside the way in which.
Leicester Metropolis sack Claudio Ranieri 9 months after Premier League title win
The Leicester Metropolis fairytale was formally led to February when Claudio Ranieri was sacked as supervisor simply 298 days after he had led the Foxes to one of the crucial unlikely championships of contemporary instances and claiming FIFA’s Coach of the Yr award within the course of.
Ranieri was not the one Italian boss of near-universal reputation to lose a giant job in 2017, with Bayern Munich deciding Three-Zero defeat at PSG in September was the final straw for Carlo Ancelotti. Bayern introduced former coach Jupp Heynckes out of retirement to regular the ship, and so they went from languishing behind Borussia Dortmund within the Bundesliga to having a snug 11-point lead on the winter break.
One other main managerial exit of 2017 was Luis Enrique, who introduced in March that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract. Barca would go on to win solely the Copa del Rey as Actual Madrid dominated at residence and overseas. Underneath his successor, Ernesto Valverde, Barca beat Madrid Three-Zero on the Bernabeu simply earlier than Christmas to increase their lead on the prime of the league to 11 factors. And all with out Neymar.
Soccer’s largest names referred to as to reply tax prices
It was a foul 12 months to fall foul of tax collectors in the event you’re one of many world’s prime footballing figures. ESPN was a part of media scrum exterior the Madrid court docket at which each Cristiano Ronaldo (in August) and Jose Mourinho (November) have been ordered to look to defend their affairs, as was their agent Jorge Mendes. All deny the fees in opposition to them.
In June, Lionel Messi’s 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud was changed with a superb of €400 per day during the sentence — a complete superb of round €255,500. Messi’s father, whose sentence was decreased to 15 months upon enchantment, was requested to pay €180,000.
In October an appeals court docket in Brazil fined Neymar Three.eight million Brazilian reales ($1.19m) for appearing in “dangerous religion” concerning his makes an attempt to delay a tax evasion case.
Harry Kane turns into 2017’s prime aim scorer as Tottenham emerge from Arsenal shadow
Tottenham Hotspur had spent a era within the shadow of native rivals Arsenal, having not completed above them within the league since 1995. However that each one modified in 2017 when Spurs lastly ended the season because the pleasure of North London, beating the Gunners 2-Zero within the last derby at White Hart Lane in April en path to ending second within the Premier League desk and consigning their neighbours to the Europa League.
Supervisor Mauricio Pochettino, playmaker Christian Eriksen and attacking midfielder Dele Alli can all rightly declare the credit score that has flowed their manner, however Harry Kane stays Tottenham’s talisman and this 12 months has absolutely proved even the final remaining doubters that he is among the world’s prime forwards.
The striker put the gloss on a wonderful 2017 in December with a hat trick in Tottenham’s 5-2 win in opposition to Southampton. He’ll end 2017 as the highest aim scorer in elite European soccer with 56 objectives for membership and nation — another than Messi — and broke Alan Shearer’s 22-year-old report for Premier League objectives in a calendar 12 months with 39.
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