The year 2020 will go down in football history as one of the most amazing we’ve ever seen. It was the year when the world’s game – and the world as a whole – stopped completely in unprecedented circumstances but started back up again in time for more history to be made on the pitch.
The global pandemic that caused so much disruption to the football world in 2020 is still far from over. But with the arrival of a New Year, let SBOTOP take you back to the truly incredible year that was and dare to look ahead to what’s in store for football in 2021.
COVID-19 shuts down football, postpones Euro 2020
The year 2020 will forever be synonymous with COVID-19. The wretched virus brought unspeakable damage around the world, so much so that all major football leagues had to halt play in March as lockdowns were imposed to contain the virus.
The fate of the various domestic football leagues and cup competitions became increasingly in doubt as countries spent several weeks struggling to keep COVID cases under control.
Euro 2020 was the biggest casualty of the pandemic in the football world as the major international tournament – which was scheduled to start in June 2020 – had to be postponed until 2021. Meanwhile, France’s Ligue 1 and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie decided to call off the remainder of their seasons.
Football restarts and finishes
However, the other major leagues in England, Spain, Italy, and Germany were still determined to play out their seasons, as was UEFA with the Champions League and Europa League.
And lo and behold, football did return. After weeks of meticulous preparation to set health protocols, the Bundesliga was the first league to return in May, while the other leagues followed shortly thereafter.
Teams played in empty stadiums without fans, a sight that has unfortunately become so common at this point. But at least the games went on as scheduled with no further interruptions and the seasons were able to conclude eventually.
Liverpool snap 30-year title drought
There was perhaps no club in Europe more pleased by the resumption of play than Liverpool. The Reds were well on course to win their much-awaited first English top-flight title in 30 years when the pandemic broke. But despite having to wait a few months longer, Liverpool eventually did clinch that first-ever Premier League title.
Admittedly, there was a somewhat anticlimactic feeling surrounding Liverpool’s title. They had all but won even before the lockdown and weren’t nearly as impressive after the restart.
As a result, they weren’t able to clinch any of the records that they had a shot at breaking (an unbeaten season, going unbeaten at home, a record points tally). There also weren’t any fans in the stands at Anfield to celebrate their incredible achievement.
But still, those should take nothing away from the amazing job that Jurgen Klopp and his side did to bring the title back to Anfield after their decades-long drought.
Bayern complete another treble
After the domestic leagues concluded, it was now time to turn the attention to Europe, where the Champions League and Europa League resumed, with significant revisions, during the knockout rounds. The normal two-legged ties were cut down to a single-elimination knockout match, which increased the drama even further.
But in truth, there seemed to be relatively little drama when it came to the winners. Bayern – who swept all before them to win the Bundesliga yet again – did the same in the Champions League as they went unbeaten since the season restart.
Thanks in large part to the goalscoring exploits of Robert Lewandowski, they looked like the best team in Europe by some margin, a point that was underscored by their 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
Bayern then went on to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the final to clinch the continental treble for the second time in their history. Meanwhile, Sevilla continued their utter dominance of the Europa League as they won the competition for a record sixth time.
Looking ahead to 2021
The effects of the disruptions in 2020 are — and will be — felt all over the football world in 2021. The compressed schedules and sheer number of games are taking their toll on top clubs like Bayern Munich and Liverpool, who have not nearly been as dominant as they were last season.
Injuries and overall fatigue caused by the accumulation of games have also led to some much more competitive title races across Europe.
The football 2021 odds of Juventus winning a 10th straight Scudetto is under serious threat as the Milan clubs have both been much better. Atletico Madrid are in a great position to win La Liga once again with both Real and Barcelona no longer dominant. And the Premier League is absolutely wide open.
The constant football could also have a massive effect on the Euros and the Copa America — if they do push through as scheduled — and could lead to even more surprising football 2021 results.
Clearly, it still won’t quite be business as usual in 2021. But hopefully, this year could be a step toward the direction of normality after such an extraordinary 2020.
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