When asked to list the memorable moments of 2020, one may rightfully believe that it would be difficult to come up with the needed answers. The fact is, it has been a year like no other, in both general life, and even in the sporting world. Yet, even as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, European football still managed to produce some moments to savour.
The classic saying in football is, ‘there’s always next week’ until there wasn’t; until the pandemic struck, and the beautiful game came to a standstill.
But, when it did make a highly anticipated return, it gave on-watching, socially distanced fans, moments that may well go down in history- including those listed below.
Top Five European Football Moments From 2020
Cadiz Shock Both Barcelona and Real Madrid
Many unexpected events occurred this year, and with each shocking moment came less of a gasp from those watching on. Yet, when newly-promoted Cadiz defeated not only Real Madrid but then Barcelona, European football was left thinking just how the La Liga side completed the feat that so many have tried and failed to do in the past.
First came the dethroning of the champions at the Bernabeu, via a 16th-minute strike from Anthony Lozano. Then, just two months later, came the upset against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona side – this time courtesy of a 63rd-minute winner from Alvaro Negredo.
Fifteen games into the season, the new side on the block sit 11th, comfortably away from the dangers of relegation having pulled off not one, but two of the biggest upsets of the season.
Lyon: The Champions League Underdogs
The 2019/20 Champions League campaign always looked set to be a thrilling competition. And in the end, even if re-arranged and reformatted, teams delivered on the grandest stage of all – from shock exits to historic maulings.
Following the trend of 2020, it was France’s Lyon who very nearly shocked the world in the Champions League after they knocked out Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side before ultimately suffering an exit at the hands of eventual champions Bayern Munich.
When all the odds were stacked against them, they rose to pull off a European upset to make a statement for French football’s reputation.
On their way to the freshly formatted last eight of the European competition in Portugal, they knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus side before completing the seemingly impossible task of knocking Pep Guardiola’s team of superstars out of the competition by a scoreline of 3-1.
In the end, the run may not have ended in glory, but, the results along the way undoubtedly deserve mentioning within moments to remember in 2020.
AC Milan Finally Return to the Top
For far too long now, Juventus have been sitting pretty at the top of Italian football. With Ronaldo only adding to their quality, many expected this dominance to continue, as it did in the 2019/20 season. But then came the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic– fresh from sunny Los Angeles and back where he belongs at the top of European football.
And, as the Swede made his grand return to the top, so did AC Milan. As things stand, the Italian giants sit one point clear at the top of Serie A as the only unbeaten team left in Europe’s top five leagues.
Many assumed the days of Milan glory was gone – not to be seen again for a while yet. But, here they are back where they belong- led by a free-scoring 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The task will be to continue their rise back to the top of Italian football in 2021 as they rival neighbours Inter Milan for the famous Scudetto trophy.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Have Potential Last Showdown
When Cristiano Ronaldo swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018, many fans were understandably left disappointed; it seemed like the end of an era; the main attraction point of the El Classico had gone; Ronaldo’s time in Spain had reached its end.
And with that departure, fans could no longer watch on as two of the best players of all time did battle on a yearly basis. The chances of seeing Lionel Messi square off against Ronaldo one last time seemed slim until the Champions League draw took place.
The draw acted as a much-needed footballing blessing and gave us all potentially one last dance between two of the greatest to grace the game. The fixture itself didn’t mean much as both sides were through. Instead, it acted as the chance to appreciate two legends; to watch on as they did battle for what could be one last time.
In the end, it was Ronaldo’s Juventus side, thanks to a brace from the man himself, who came out on top by 3-0 to add to Lionel Messi and Barcelona’s woes. There may not have been fans in attendance at the Nou Camp for Ronaldo to silence once more, but the famous celebration still came out, as did the goals once more against the Blaugrana.
Bayern Munich Demolish Barcelona
Ever since losing 4-0 to Liverpool in the 2018/19 Champions League season – losing their aggregate lead of three goals in the process – Barcelona haven’t been the same. And the game against Bayern Munich was the nail in the coffin – potentially the beginning of what could be the most dramatic of downfalls.
Heading into the game, having lost out on the La Liga title to Real Madrid, the Spaniards were clear underdogs against a Bayern Munich side who had just one more trophy to tick off their list.
To complete that list, of course, the Bundesliga champions had to guide themselves through against Barcelona, a task which wasn’t meant to be easy. Yet, by the time the full-time whistle sounded, the objective was complete, and Barcelona had been ruthlessly and embarrassingly dispatched 8-2.
Goals from Robert Lewandowski, Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, a brace from Thomas Muller and, to add the cherry on top of Barcelona’s misery, two from loanee Philippe Coutinho condemned Barcelona to a woeful exit.
The result will go down in history as one of the biggest thrashings’ in Champions League history and was the standout moment of European football in 2020 from perhaps the team of 2020 in Bayern Munich.
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