As another year draws to its conclusion, TheHardTackle looks at the top five unforgettable football memories of the year including the FIFA World Cup in Brazil
Germany’s 7-1 mauling of Brazil
At the beginning of June, if someone told you that the host nation Brazil would be humiliated in the semis at the hands of a European team, you would’ve passed that person as a lunatic. In what turned out to be the most astonishing game at World Cup, let alone a semi final, the Samba boys were utterly humiliated in their own backyard by a ruthless, efficient German machine. The Germans, after defeating a battling Argentina in the final, became the first ever European team to win the World Cup on South American soil. Joachim Loew’s men ran out deserved winners and their beautiful style of football made the Class of 2014 as one of the most special German sides to win a World Cup.
Simeone ends the Madrid-Barca duopoly
When Diego Godin scored a thumping header at the Nou Camp, it not only ended the Spanish Big two’s dominance but also made La Liga more competitive and watchable. It has been quite boring for the neutrals to see Barcelona and Real Madrid bag the La Liga every year and Diego Simeone, with his team’s counter attacking style and rigorous pressing became the first La Liga side to win the Spanish title since Rafael Benitez’s Valencia bagged it in 2004. The Argentine would have most probably won the Champions League if not for Bale’s heroics in stoppage time. Real Madrid won their most coveted tenth European crown a La Decimaa and it turned out to be the most exciting chapters in Madrid`s football history with two of its iconic clubs playing out the first ever derby final in the Champions League.
The magic of the SAS ; Suarez and Sturridge
2014 would also be remembered for the one of the most deadliest strike partnerships seen in Europe- Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The duo was prolific in front of goal and used to put teams to sword in the first quarter of the game. Despite their best efforts, Liverpool fell agonizingly short of winning their first ever Premier League title. The ‘SAS’ bagged 52 goals and 19 assists between them which was the best return by any strike partnership in Europe last season. Liverpool are struggling to replace the effect of the SAS from last season and it would be quite some time for us to see a similar strike force in the Premier League.
a The Kinga Thierry Henry retires
One of France’s best ever players, Thierry Henry became the last member of the Class of a 98 to hang up his boots, in a career spanning two
decades. The Frenchman’s peak was at Arsenal Football Club where he led the Gunners to two Premier League titles and three FA cups. He ended up being the Gunners’ top goalscorer with 228 goals in 376 appearances and was also part of the a Invinciblesa which won the Premier League without losing a single game. The former Arsenal man had a career to cherish which saw him play in the top most leagues in Europe and his final swansong was in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls. Many were expecting the Arsenal legend to turn out for his beloved club for one last time, but Henry chose to hang up his boots and kick start his career as a football pundit. The game would be poorer without Henry and 2014 also saw a clutch of legends like Javier Zanetti, Ryan Giggs, Carles Puyol and Clarence Seedorf draw curtains to their illustrious careers.
Messi V Ronaldo| The battle just gets better and better
Last but not the least, it is getting ridiculously competitive between the two best players in the modern era; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It is amazing to see the effort put in by both players to raise their game every year and smashing every possible record on the way. Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to the World Cup final smashed the record for the all time goal scorer in La Liga with an insane 253 goals in 289 matches. He is also the top scorer in the Champions League with 75 goals closely followed by Cristiano Ronaldo who has 72 goals to his name. The Portuguese star was not far behind Messi in the records column, registering 17 assists in a single Champions League season (the most by any player) helping Real Madrid win the La Decima. Many fans have their own opinion on who is better and who should get the Ballon d’Or but one thing is for sure, if these two continue their exponential rise in quality, the players in the next generation would find it very, very tough to smash their records.