In October, the football world turns it’s attention to Europe for the next nine months. The clubs and players are gearing up for one of the most exciting seasons yet! With the start of the new season just around the corner, it’s time to look back at how the previous nine months have treated us. It’s time for our monthly review, and this time around we will take a look at the sporting events that left the biggest impact on the sport.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past year it’s that nothing stays the same. Just a few months ago, on September 12th, the Premier League announced they would be reducing the number of games played each week from 42 to 39. While many considered the decision to be madness, the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent suspension of football has led to a rethink of how we as a league and as a game should be playing. It’s fair to say that the number of football matches that were scheduled to take place this month has decreased by around 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, with the help of modern technology, leagues, players and clubs have worked hard to ensure that matches are able to take place despite the pandemic. While it’s still not entirely clear when football will return to its normal schedule, it is at least clear that leagues around the world will continue to adjust as we go along.
Even prior to the pandemic, football was in the midst of a period of change and evolution, and it’s continued since for the better. The introduction of new clubs and the expansion of existing ones has made the game far more unqiue and interesting than ever before. It’s also led to a stronger competitive environment as teams vie for the best positions in the overall standings. The future of professional football is undoubtedly looking brighter with the game’s popularity set to rise once again as more and more people want to get involved. Thanks to the likes of FIFA, esports, and social media, the future of football appears limitless. As long as there’s a ball to be kicked, there will always be someone willing to lace up their boots and gear up for a game.
August has always been a quiet month for football, with the summer months a time for rest and recuperation. The month is most notable for the Europa League, the annual competition where clubs from across Europe compete for a spot in the season’s Champions League. The competition’s popularity has increased substantially since its inception in 2015, and in 2019 alone there were 17 games, double the number played in 2018. The number of games has increased as a result of more teams entering the competition and increased scheduling conflicts within the Premier League. One of the most memorable matches of the month was the Europa League final, with two English clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea, facing off against one another. The match, which took place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, was one of the most watched games in history, with 223.2 million people tuning in to take part in the match’s climax. The two clubs are long-time rivals, and the match was characterized by a bitter battle between the two English clubs. The match was won by Liverpool, securing their place in the Champions League for another season.
It’s fair to say that the 2019/2020 season has been a breakthrough for Liverpool. The club’s first game back from the break was a tricky match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. After that, however, they won six in a row, one of which was a very memorable match against Aston Villa. This unbeaten run continued until the end of the season, with Liverpool ending the year with a 100% record. Their form has led to them finishing second in the league, and they will be looking to continue their success in the coming years. In the meantime, Europe’s biggest clubs will be looking to continue their winning ways as they prepare for the coming season.
The first half of the year has treated European football fans very well, with many popular leagues, such as the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, having a record number of games scheduled for the season’s first half. The competition was anticipated to be reduced given the continuing pandemic and the world’s response to the virus. However, with the help of technology and the leagues’ flexibility, nearly all games were able to go ahead, and so far they’ve all been highly memorable. Fans have been given the opportunity to follow their favorite teams’ performances from the comfort of their living room. It’s turned out to be a bonus for everyone involved.
The most notable result of the first six months of the year was Portugal’s victory over Croatia at the World Cup. The match, which took place in the round of 16 and was one of the tournament’s most exciting matches, saw Portgual play some breathtaking football. The result of the match was enough to see them advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll be playing France. While many expected Croatia to knock Portugal off their feet, the latter proved to be a tougher opponent and have since won two games straight. It’s early days yet, but this could be the start of yet another golden era for the Portuguese national team. It’s fair to say that Europe’s most popular clubs will be looking to continue their dominance in the coming years.
The final month of the year has been nothing if not eventful. On the one hand, we have the 2019 edition of the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier club tournament. The competition saw one of the most successful clubs in history, Paris Saint-Germain, fail to retain their crown, as they were knocked out by English club, Chelsea, in the quarterfinals. On the other hand, we have the UEFA Europa League, the competition where clubs from across Europe compete for a spot in the UEFA Champions League. The competition has seen some memorable games in its five seasons, and it will be exciting to see which clubs come out on top in the next edition.
The most memorable match of the month was unquestionably the Serie A match between Juventus and Inter Milan. The two Italian giants faced off in one of the most important matches of the year, with the victory securing Juventus’ 20th league title and Inter’s 18th league championship. It was an incredible display of footballing skill on the part of the two Italian clubs, with each player putting in a performance that was worthy of recording.
Speaking of performances that were worthy of recording, the month of June also saw some incredible shows from some of Europe’s top clubs. For example, we saw Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Paris Saint-Germain play some fantastic football, with the defending champion Paris Saint-Germain scoring only three goals in the entire month. It was an incredible achievement for a team which dominated the whole season, scoring a record number of goals (116) overall. One has to wonder whether this is a sign that PSG are losing their brilliance, or whether this is simply down to the fact that this was a very weak month for European football. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see how PSG perform in the coming year, as they look to retain and improve on their brilliant form.
With the start of the season less than a month away, fans are eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite clubs. Many are looking forward to the start of the English Premier League, while the German Bundesliga and the Spanish Liga are also set to resume action. UEFA Champions League holders, Barcelona, are set to play their first match since the end of March, while the defending European Cup and UEFA Europa League champions, Liverpool and Chelsea, will be looking to continue their success.
It’s been a quiet month for football thus far, so let’s see how the last few months have treated us. In April alone, there were 24 games played, a sharp increase on the three previous months, which had only 24, 23, and 22 games played respectively. It’s fair to say that the UEFA Nations League, where 32 teams compete for four spots in the UEFA European Championship, has generated a lot of interest. The tournament will see teams from across Europe compete for four spots in the UEFA European Championship, with matches expected to be played in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Scotland. UEFA have moved to establish a new format for international competitions, and it will be interesting to see how the Nations League develops as a result of this new competition format.
April saw the start of the UEFA Nations League, the international football competition where teams from across Europe compete for four spots in the UEFA European Championship. The competition was hailed by many as a fresh new approach to international football, and it will be interesting to see how the tournament develops as a direct result of the pandemic. Some of the biggest names in world football have already played a part in the inaugural edition, with Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal all taking part. These are undoubtedly the teams which will be wanting to continue their involvement as the competition develops.