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The 10 Biggest Football Stories In 2021

The year 2021, despite being marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, gave us some of the biggest moments that the game of football has ever seen.

Here’s a look back at some of the iconic moments, events and matches of 2021 as the year comes to a close.

European Super League

In April this year, a few elite football clubs including the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United announced the formation of a European Super League to be contested by 20 top European football clubs.

The announcement triggered widespread condemnation from fans, UEFA , FIFA and even some national governments.

The severe backlash prompted nine of the 12 founding member clubs to apologise and withdraw from the tournament.

Lionel Messi leaves Barcelona

At the end of the 2020-21 season, Lionel Messi held a press conference in which he announced that he would be leaving Barcelona, the club he called home for more than two decades.

Club president Joan Laporta claimed that Messi did not want to leave Barcelona, but La Liga’s fair play regulations forced him out of the club.

“Leo wanted to stay and the Club wanted him to stay but with the La Liga rules it has not been possible,” he said.

“To comply with the league’s fair play regulations we had to accept an agreement that mortgaged the Club’s TV right for half a century and FC Barcelona is above everything else.”

Messi then joined Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent.

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Manchester United

12 years since he left the club, Cristiano Ronaldo made his return to Manchester United in 2021.

The prodigal son’s return to Old Trafford was finalised after United agreed a reported £12.85 million deal with Juventus.

As per reports, the move broke the all-time shirt sales record, overtaking Messi who had moved to Paris Saint-Germain a few days earlier.

Ronaldo made his second debut for the club in a Premier League clash against Newcastle United at home. The Portuguese superstar scored two goals as United won 4-1.

Lille stop the PSG juggernaut

French club Lille did the unthinkable, stopping Paris Saint-Germain from winning their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title by defeating Angers on the final day of the season.

This was Lille’s first French league title in ten years and fourth overall.

The Neymar and Kylian Mbappe-led PSG side finished just one point behind Lille in the final standings.

Barcelona Femeni make history

Barcelona Femeni, FC Barcelona’s women’s team, created history in 2021 by winning the hallowed treble – league, cup and the UEFA Women’s Champions League titles.

The Barca women finished the league season in spectacular fashion. Out of the 34 matches they played in the league, they won 33 and amassed a mammoth 99 points on the table.

They beat Chelsea 4-0 in the final of the Women’s Champions League final before defeating Levante 4-2 in the Copa de la Reina final to complete the historic treble.

Italy win 2021 Euros

The stage was set at the iconic Wembley Stadium for England to win their first international trophy since 1966 but it was Italy who triumphed on the night and won their second European Championship title.

England left-back Luke Shaw opened the scoring in the second minute of the game before veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci equalised for the Italians in the second half.

After failing to break the deadlock in extra time, it came down to a penalty shootout to decide the title. Three English players missed as Italy won the shootout 3-2.

Lewandowski breaks Muller’s record

Bayern Munich stalwart Robert Lewandowski equalled German football legend Gerd Muller’s record of 42 Bundesliga goals in a calendar year.

The Polish striker broke the record in Bayern’s 4-0 home win against Wolfsburg.

Muller’s record of 42 goals in a year was broken for the first time since 1972.

Inter end Juve’s reign

Going into the 2020-21 Serie A season, punters had their money on Juventus winning a 10th straight league title.

But it was Inter Milan who put a stop to Juventus’ marauding run by winning their first Serie A title since the 2009-10 season.

With 28 wins from 38 games, Inter finished the season with 91 points, 12 clear of second-placed AC Milan.

Invincible Rangers

As with Juventus in Serie A, Scottish Premiership club Celtic were aiming for their 10th straight title.

But it was their arch-rivals Rangers, under former Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard, who went the entire season unbeaten to win their first title since 2010/11.

Out of the 38 games that Rangers played, they won 32 and drew six to amass a whopping 102 points, 25 more than second-placed Celtic.

Argentina win Copa America

Lionel Messi finally got his hands on an international trophy after Argentina defeated Brazil at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro in the final of the Copa America.

Angel Di Maria’s 22nd-minute strike was enough for the Argentineans to clinch their 15th Copa America trophy and first major international win since 1993.

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