It’s been a roller coaster of a year for football. The footballers teased the fans into thinking something magical would happen, only to get swept by their wonderful displays.
There are more stories of struggle, triumph and history in the beautiful game than most people can remember at the end of 2018. As the new year is here, Khelpanda looks back on the 5 best and most significant moments in football during the last 12 months.
Arsene Wenger quits Arsenal after 22 years
Wenger stepped down as coach of Arsenal at the end of the 2017/18 Premier League season. The Frenchman was one of the longest-serving managers in the history of European club football, leading the Gunners to three league titles and seven FA Cups over the course of his 22 years at the helm. He also oversaw one of the most iconic seasons in English football history – the 2003/04 season in which the club were unbeaten over the league campaign, winning 26 and drawing 12 of their 38 games.
Also Read: Top 10 youngsters who shine in 2018
Roma’s historic comeback against Barcelona
Barcelona entered the second leg of their quarterfinal clash with Roma in a comfortable position. The Catalans had not lost a match in domestic or Champions League match all season and had not tasted defeat in 18 straight matches, including a 4–1 thrashing of Roma in the first leg of the competition at Camp Nou. But Ernesto Valverde’s side came out flat-footed, allowing a sixth-minute goal to Edin Dzeko on a brilliant Daniele De Rossi long pass. De Rossi doubled Roma’s lead shortly after half-time from the penalty spot and defender Kostas Manolas finished a beautiful header past Marc-Andre ter Stegen late in the game to dramatically propel Roma to the semifinals with a 3-0 win.
Champions League, Real Madrid win three in a row
Real Madrid are the most successful team in the history of the Champions League and they made yet more history in May 2018 when they became the first team to win the trophy three times in a row in the modern era. Real won the European Cup four years in succession in the 1950s, while Bayern Munich and Ajax each won it three times in a row in the 1970s. AC Milan won it twice in a row in the late 1980s, but notably, no club had managed the feat since the adoption of the new format in 1992. Los Blancos blew Liverpool away in the Kiev final, easily beating the Liverpool 3-1 in Cardiff, with Gareth Bale scoring twice.
Mbappe the hero, as France win World Cup
Kylian Mbappe shone as France won the World Cup in Russia, scoring a majestic double against Argentina and a strike from outside the box against Croatia. He was clearly nowhere near an unknown, having already cost Paris St-Germain £165.7m, but it was the summer that Mbappe really showcased himself on the world stage as the man most likely to replace Messi and Ronaldo as the best. The now 20-year-old has carried that form into this season, with 13 league goals in 11 games. Only Lionel Messi has scored more in Europe’s top five leagues.
Luka Modric, the new Ballon d’Or
For ten years, the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in football kept changing hands between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But 2018 was witness to a new winner, as Croatia’s Luka Modric got his hands on the title thanks to his stellar efforts in helping Real Madrid win a third successive Champions League title in May and also captaining his Croatia team to the World Cup final and being named the player of the tournament.