Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A-Z of Football

by Ben Willcocks

The year 2012 has certainly been one of the most entertaining years of football, so I thought it’d be unjust not to reflect one it. Here is a systematic list of why 2012 was such an inspirational year for football, and why there is so much pressure for 2013 to follow suit:

M is for  . . .
(source: Wikimedia.org)

A is for Alterations: Because of new ideas from new owners, Cardiff City fans became outraged this summer because their predominant blue colour was changed to red for advertising purposes. Furthermore, the most previously used formation of 4-4-2 is becoming far less used nowadays, with 17 of the 20 Premier League teams using other formations more often in 2012. For example, Wigan regularly use pressing full-backs with a 5-3-2 formation, and many teams such as Liverpool, Tottenham and Swansea used attacking wingers as the main focus of the team in a 4-3-3 formation.
B is for Mario Balotelli: For me, certainly he has been the most memorable player in 2012. He brought such character and entertainment into the football year, from scoring goals with his shoulder on the pitch, to handing £20 notes to random people in the streets of Manchester. What a man.
C is for Champions League: Despite my dislike for clichés, Chelsea’s Champions League journey was truly a roller-coaster ride. After only scraping first place in an easy group, they were hardly given a chance to win, but they overcame Benfica and Barcelona (in quite possibly one of the most entertaining games of the seasons) before facing Bayern Munich in the final. Even though they were losing in the 83rd minute, powerhouse Didier Drogba equalised and then slid the winning penalty past Neuer in the shootout. In my opinion that certainly equals the Champions League final back in 2005, when Liverpool won.
D is for Di Matteo: This man has quite possibly done everything as a manager in just a year. After taking over from Villas-Boas in March, he took Chelsea to their first ever Champions League trophy, as well as winning another FA Cup for the club. Then, after a Premier League record of 12 wins, 6 draws and 5 losses, intolerant Roman Abramovic gave him the boot. He became the seventh manager to be fired since just 2003!
E is for Euro 2012: This international competition certainly spoilt us after the madness that was the Premier League, despite another disappointing display from the Three Lions. After Spain’s impressive passing football and introduction of a new formation without a striker, using Fabregas as their most attacking player, they dominated Italy in the final after they themselves made fools out of the newly formed England team under Roy Hodgeson. In my eyes, the most memorable part of the competition was when Italy’s Andrea Pirlo had the audacity to chip his penalty part Joe Hart – sublime talent!
F is for FIFA Club World Cup: This often disregarded competition supposedly determines who the best club team in the world is. This year, Chelsea failed to make their talent truly known world-wide by failing to beat South-American giants Corinthians, who kept the game to a 1-0 score –line in their favour. Despite being neglected in certain people’s views, it still remains a memorable aspect of the year.
G is for Goalkeepers: There have been many criticisms that the goalkeepers are becoming increasingly worse, after all-time greats such as Oliver Kahn and Fabien Barthez retiring. Even Gianluigi Buffon, who is arguably one of the best keepers the world has ever seen, is into his final years before retirement. However, I would completely disagree. Joe Hart had a splendid 2012, helping Manchester City win the title, and Manuel Neuer is looking world class for Bayern Munich currently – and surely Iker Casillas has earned his place in the hall of fame, captaining Spain to a third successive international title at Euro 2012.
H is for Roy Hodgeson: Now the manager of his country, Hodgeson began the year by keeping West Bromwich Albion in the Premiership, before being appointed to England on 1st May. He was arguably thrown in at the deep-end with the usual expectations of England fans who believe that, despite the inexperience of our team, we could be crowned champions of Europe. Although he failed to turn our dreams into reality, he looked at the Euros, in my opinion, far more competent than Capello ever did.
I is for Injuries: We, as spectators, have unfortunately missed out on watching many players over 2012 due to some long-term injuries. Jack Wilshere missed the entirety of the last Premier League season and Euro 2012, which would have been his first international competition, due to an injury he obtained back in 2011. He has made an impressive comeback throughout the winter, and now has regained his reputation for a hot prospect for England. The world also stood still as Fabrice Muamba collapsed in a game against Tottenham, which was later abandoned. One of the most emotional football stories of 2012, it ended with Muamba recovering and thanking the football world for their immense support.
J is for Juventus: This historic Italian team have had yet another superb year, winning Serie A comfortably on 6th May and almost receiving the double after finishing runners-up in the Coppa Italia. In the summer they also managed to buy silky speedster Giovincio from Parma, who performed well for Italy in the Euros.
K is for Kompany: This Belgian has every aspect you want from a defender, strength, leadership, determination and most of all a calm and responsible attitude. With players to placate players such as Balotelli and De Jong (who left in the summer), he was a complete inspiration to Manchester City in 2012 and deserved to  lift the Premier League trophy.
L is for La Liga: Although the Premier League was exhilarating enough for one season, we also experienced a lot of interesting football in Spain. Real Madrid topped the table grabbing a century of points to beat Barcelona who only managed 91. There was a bizarre amount of managerial changes in La Liga, with a record of 19!
M is for Lionel Messi: What a player. I can imagine in 50 years telling my grandchildren about the skill of this man in the same way ours talk about Stanley Matthews and Jimmy Dickinson. Words can’t quite describe the ability of this little Argentine, but facts can – Messi now holds the record of the most goals in a calendar year – 86 goals!
N is for Gary Neville: This pundit/commentator/coach has had a phenomenal 2012. He now co-hosts Monday Night Football and has the freedom to express his views on the current game and on the previous weekend fixtures. Furthermore he was given a job by Roy Hodgeson, becoming a coach for England on a four-year contract. He also regularly commentated in 2012, most notably in the semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea, where he had longest “scoregasm” of 2012, when Torres scored in the 90th minute, which lasted over 8 seconds!
O is for the Olympics: Even after the excitement of Euro 2012, football was globally competed at the Olympics, despite the fact that the teams performing in Euro couldn’t recall the sae players to their squad. This left Great Britain with a very inexperienced team and we therefore underperformed, again. After unimpressively getting knocked out by South Korea, this gave Brazil the prime opportunity to capitalise and grab the gold. Shockingly they lost to Mexico in the final!
P is for Pardew: Acclaimed with the prize for Manager of the Season, the Newcastle boss has had an excellent start of the year, driving Toon Army to fifth in the League Table above Chelsea. His eye for a bargain was also noticed last year, when he signed Senegalese forward Papiss Cisse in January, who made an instant impact, scoring the more than any other foreign player joining the Prem in his first season, behind Fernando Torres.
Q is for Quotes: Last year has seen some of the best quotes in football. Robbie Fowler said during a match commentary that for Fulham “the win is looking more and more less likely” – and when an interviewer asked Messi what his reaction was on Ronaldo saying he was sent by God, he replied “I didn’t send him…”
R is for Ronaldo: Acclaimed for his power, pace and technical quality, Ronaldo has established himself as a phenomenal player, aiding Real Madrid to their 32nd title in La Liga with 46 goals in the season. He was certainly the main link in the Portuguese side at Euro 2012, having the pressure to score goals on a regular basis for his nation – certainly one of, if not, the best player to play in 2012.
S is for Signings: In my opinion, we’ve seen some of the most incredible Premier League transfers in 2012 – Cazorla to Arsenal, Dempsey to Tottenham, Cahill to Chelsea, Cissé to Newcastle and most notably Van Persie to Manchester United. He specifically has made a great impact to Manchester United’s successful campaign so far, leading the number of goals scored in the division.
T is for Title Race: Aguero’s 90th minute Championship winner for Man City was the cherry on the cake as far as the title race was concerned. With locked horns throughout the entirety of the season the Manchester rivals overtook each other regularly until United were 8 points clear with merely a few games to go. After beating them in the derby, City showed character to compress this gap, which finally required them to beat QPR to win their first Premier League Title. They went 2-1 down needing 2 goals in 3 minutes, and shortly after Dzeko equalised for the Sky Blues, Aguero scored a goal that caused a special reaction, involving me kneeling on my lounge floor, screaming with excitement and thanking the football god for creating the most incredible moment that I will certainly never forget for as long as I live – and I’m not even a City fan!!
U is for Upsets: There have been many giant-killings this year in football, throughout the international and domestic competitions. Recently, Bradford City knocked out Arsenal from the Capital One Cup after Vermalaen failed to convert his penalty in the shootout. Many were surprised when Wigan beat Manchester United 1-0 towards the end of April, which ultimately stopped them from winning the title. 
V is for Van Persie: There are few better goal scorers in the game at the moment than Van Persie. Winning the Premier League golden boot with Arsenal showed his love to poach goals, and now after moving to Manchester United he is leading the golden boot this current season.
W is for Wonder goals: There were many amazing goals from players this calendar year. Cisse’s incredible volley from out-wide flew past Cech in in an unbelievable manner, and Crouch managed to grab a point against Champions Manchester City with one of the most outrageous volleys of Premier League history.
X is for Xavi: At most likely his last European Championship before he retires, Xavi was the hub of the midfield for Spain, assisting many goals – only Pirlo received a better pass-success rate in the competition.  This passing ability is also current for Barcelona, where he has maintained a 97% success rate, better than any man to have ever played in La Liga. Xavi is a masterful midfielder who is sure to have earned himself into the hall of fame as one of the world’s all-time greats.
Y is for Youth: There is a lot of hope now for the future England team as there are many young players playing first team football for their respective Premier League club. Most notably, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a very successful year, finding his feet at Arsenal and travelling to Euro as one of the youngest players to compete in the competition. Also, our future midfield could easily be strengthened with the likes of Tom Cleverly and Jack Wilshere, and Wilfried Zaha is looking a like-for-like replacement for Ashley Young, with many pundits arguing that he is much more clinical than the Manchester United winger.
Z is for Zenit Saint Petersburg: Zenit are becoming a strong force in Russia now, after winning the league comfortably. They now have renowned and talented footballers amongst them, from silky Portuguese midfielder Danny, to powerful new signing Hulk. With a lot of financial backing, Zenit may become one of the top teams in the world in years to come, thanks to their success in 2012.


  1. #Wonder goals: Cisse's had to be the best against Chelsea with his goal against Aston Villa on his debut being his second best #Cisse's#Amazing

  2. ha ha yes I completly agree!

  3. amazing year of football. Bayern Munich will win the ECL this year!

    1. Haha Chelsea won! Bayern are rubbish!

    2. Down with with Bayern! Losers!

    3. Poor Poor Bayern what you gonna do>

  4. Very well made article



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