The year 2011 saw the beautiful game of football being taken to different heights by a host of memorable moments that will forever be etched in any football lover’s memory.
Barcelona’s Continued Supremacy.
Going against all law of averages, this year also Barcelona continued their global domination. The sizzling and passing of them were again on display, which proved irresistible for most teams. At the start of the season, critics kept on saying that surely Barcelona will falter this season. Real Madrid’s big ticket purchases and their newly appointed coach Jose Mourinho were seen as the perfect antithesis to Barcelona. Mourinho was specifically appointed to put an end to the Catalan domination. But despite his best efforts, his side remained the second best in the league and got comprehensively beaten in all the El Classico matches.
When Barcelona faced Manchester United in Champions league final, pundits believed that the most successful British manager would surely find a way to stop the Catalans. Instead, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team was simply swept aside as Barcelona lifted the coveted trophy for second time in three years to take their trophy tally to a record six for the season.
Knocking Livepool off the perch.
Ending Liverpool’s domination of British football was Sir Alex’s main motivation when he joined the club as a manger, way back in 1986. But who would have thought that in the next 25 years Manchester United will notch up a record number of 18 league titles, surpassing Liverpool in the process.
However, Manchester United’s characteristic flair and flamboyance were missing for most part of the season. A team which was wafer thin on paper, shorn of superstars like Tevez and Ronaldo, huffed and puffed their way to the title, despite having an abysmal away record. However, this clearly underlined the importance of Sir Alex at the club, who without getting any suitable reinforcements for the exiting superstars, still managed to put out a title winning team.
The Ugly Side Of Football
The ignominious side of football was glaringly revealed in the two high profile racism incidents that mired the Premier League this season.
First was the infamous Evra Suarez row, where Suarez was a slapped an eight match ban for calling Evra a “Negro”. Suarez’s subsequent flimsy and rather laughable excuse, that that particular word is not considered derogatory in Uruguay, was thankfully out rightly dismissed by the FA who meted out a suitable punishment for this abject behavior.
The second incident where John Terry is accused of hurling racial slurs at Anton Ferdinand, is still being probed by the police. It is believed that Terry did say something offensive, but the evidence is inconclusive. But the English FA has taken no chances and has since stripped Terry of his national team’s captaincy.
That Magical Night At The Emirates.
The venue was the Emirates Stadium. The match was the first leg of prequaterfinal Champions League tie between Arsenal and Barcelona, considered to be the two best exponents of passing football. What transpired on the pitch was a magnificent footballing spectacle or sheer brilliance, that a crowd of around 60,000 were honoured to witness. Beating Barcelona while playing attacking football is like climbing the proverbial mountain without oxygen. But this stupendous feat was achieved by Arsenal that night. The two sides put on a footballing masterclass, which culminated in a glorious Arsenal victory, when Andrey Arshavin scored a stunning winner. The ambience at Ashburton Grove was surreal as Wenger basked in his youth project’s finest moment.
Although the Gunners ended up controversially losing the second leg 3-1 and consequently the tie, that night at the Emirates represented a glorious chapter that will be written in gold letters in the annals of the club’s history.
Balotelli-Why Always Me.
Easy to love or hate but very hard to ignore Mario Balotelli remained the Premier League’s most colourful character last season. Always under the media glare for the right and wrong reasons, Balotelli’s celebration at Old Trafford after he scored, became football’s most iconic celebration. After nonchalantly sidefooting into the net , Balotelli lifted his shirt behind his neck to reveal the words-“Why Always Me?” – an act that will definitely keep his cult like status intact