Sports Mid-Year Review: Biggest moments in football so far in 2017

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Mid-year 2017 and football has not disappointed, the beautiful game has continued to give us thrilling and gaping moments to cherish.
With six months gone in 2017 and another to go, we look at some of the biggest football moments of 2017 so far.

1. Real Madrid win first La Liga in 5 years (May)
When Real Madrid twice smashed the world record fee twice in 2009 summer transfer window, (first for Kaka and then Cristiano Ronaldo ) many expected them to quickly end Barcelona ’s dominance in Spain.
It took them another three years, winning their 32nd La Liga title. Since then, it’s been tougher.
The appointment of fans’ favourite and former hero
Zinedine Zidane mid-way into the 2015-2016 season brought some calm to Real Madrid. The following season his fantastic man-management style, a well-managed Ronaldo and a well-rotated squad brought them the La Liga.

2. Back to back Champions League title for Real Madrid (June)
While winning La Liga was the wish of every Real Madrid fan, winning back to back Champions League title was a fiery tale.
A Cristiano Ronaldo magic on the night of Saturday, June 3 gave Real Madrid a 4-1 win over Juventus in the Champions League final.
With that magical night, Real Madrid became the first side in the Champions League era to retain the trophy » .

3. Chelsea’s Premier League win (May)
Antonio Conte came to England in the summer of 2016 with some question marks. He had won titles with Juventus and impressed with the Italy National team. But sceptics pointed that he struggled in Euro with Juventus and how his Italian side was out-played by Germany in Euro 2016 .
In a new league, many were not surprised when his Chelsea team lost two consecutive games In September against Liverpool and Arsenal . They were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool and suffered a 3-0 embarrassing loss away at Arsenal.
These defeats triggered Conte into switching to his favourite three-man defence system. 13-match winning streak followed and in May Chelsea won the Premier League title.

4. Arsene Wenger’s two-year-contract (May)
One of football’s most familiar sight is Arsene Wenger on Arsenal’s bench. That’s what the football world has gotten used to for over 20 years.
But it seems it was ending as Wenger came under intense pressure from fans, the media and even some senior Arsenal officials. He delayed his decision to stay for more than four months before he finally signed a new two-year-contract.

5. Chapecoense return after fatal plane crash (January)
One of football’s most tragic incident happened in November 2016 when a plane carrying Brazilian team Chapecoense for a game crashed. Of the 77 people on board, 71 lost their lives, including 19 players and 24 other club members.
Tragic cannot explain what happened to a team which had been on the rise from the fourth division to first in Brazil.
While tragedy is a sad part of the world we live in, great comebacks are what we love football for and that’s what Chapecoense did.
Just less than two months after the crash, Chapecoense played their first game in January 2017- a 2-2 against
Palmeiras.

6. Lionel Messi’s El Clasico goal (April)
When he’s done with football, one of Lionel Messi’s iconic photos will be the picture of him holding his shirt in his hands in front of Real Madrid fans at the Bernabéu.
That moment happened after scoring a late-minute winner for Barcelona against arch-rivals Real Madrid » – smashing a Jordi Alba pass into the corner.
The win was vital as Barcelona as it took them top of the table thanks to their better head-to-head record with both sides locked on 75 points.
Madrid, however, had a game in hand which they won and later went ahead to lift the La Liga title.

7. Germany’s FIFA Confederation Cup title win (July)
After a disappointing summer at Euro 2016 , world champions Germany won the 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup beating Chile 1-0 in the final.
While it will not make up for the disappointment of not winning Euro 2016, lifting the trophy without first-choice stars like Thomas Mueller , Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil shows how dominant Germany are right now in world football.
Bring on Russia 2018.

8. AFCON changes (July)
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) made some changes to their premier tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)
From the 2019 edition, AFCON will have 24 teams instead of the 16 we have seen since 1996. The tournament will be staged in June and July to align with the European football calendar.
CAF are hoping for an increase in profit, increase in participation fee and more opportunities for African countries.
The changed will also bring about the end of the country Vs European club saga which has been usual with an AFCON in January/February.

9. Monaco’s Ligue 1 title win (May)
Just back to the Ligue in 2013, Monaco has had a rapid rise which saw them won the Ligue 1 title, ending Paris Saint-Germain ’s four-year dominance.
The manner with which they did it was what made it more thrilling with manager Leonardo Jardim assembling a group of talented and unknown stars led by resurgent Radamel Falcao .
They also had an exciting run to the semi-final of the Champions League where they beat the likes of
Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund .

10. Emergence of Kylian Mbappe
The hottest property in world football right now came out in full force in 2017. Mbappe scored 26 goals in all competition helping Monaco to a Ligue 1 title and a fantastic run to the semi-final of the Champions League.
At just 18, the youngster plays with a certain fearlessness and arrogance that outwit his age. A huge career lies in front him and with a fee of over 100m expected to be splashed on him  , it won’t a shock to see him end his career as one of the greats.
He has been one of the stars of 2017 so far. How far can he go?, only time will tell.

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