It is common knowledge that 2020 was one of the toughest year for global football. Football today is no longer just a sport. It is big business and has become a way of life for so many fans across the world, especially in Europe where football is at its highest level. Fans and the management of various leagues have lamented the absence of the sport for almost half of 2020. Most soccer federations and associations declared huge losses after the lockdown.
Although Football eventually came back, it was however played behind closed doors. But was it enough to quench the thirst of the hungry fans?
The fans want to watch their heroes and favourite players in the game, but it was never possible. The year 2020 would have been a great and interesting year for all football lovers but competitions like the EUROS 2020, COPA America and World cup qualifiers were all postponed. Most of them would take place in 2021.
Looking beyond 2020, let us start with the most popular leagues. The English premier league (EPL) is the most viewed league in football. After months of lockdown, the EPL returned with its uniqueness and euphoria but featured behind closed doors.
Liverpool the defending champions of the league is projected as the favourite to emerge winner of the league in 2021 again following the faltering of their potential rival, Manchester City.
As at 30th of December 2020, Manchester City was 8th on the league table winning 7 out of 14 of their matches and Liverpool on the other hand was first on the table winning 9 matches out of 15 matches. Other challengers within the top four positions include Manchester United, Leicester United and Everton who were second, third and fourth respectively.
The battle for the top positions of the EPL continues with interesting matches and fixtures this year. Clearly the matches of the top six positions no doubt would determine who would take over from Liverpool as the champion of England this 2021.
Another European League that serves interesting football display is the German Bundesliga. Bayern are on a mission to win the Bundesliga for a record 9th season in a row, with Borussia Dortmund then under Jurgen Klopp being the last side to deny FCB way back in 2012. Closely behind the champion of Europe is Bayern Leverkusen and RB Leipzig making the league so tough for the champion. The year 2021 will see them battle for the trophy.
The Spanish la Liga is said to be the most open league this year. Overtime, the league has been dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid with Athletico Madrid always close and challenging. This year Athletico Madrid have capitalized on the poor form of both Real Madrid and Barcelona to remain top of the league with Real Madrid closely behind. Real Sociedad is equally showing the traits of an title challenger. The thought of a titanic battle amongst this four rivals will excite football lovers and its sure an exciting feature to anticipate this 2021.
French football has seen its fair share of fairy-tale stories in recent years, with both Montpellier and AS Monaco winning Ligue 1 within the past decade. However, this season, huge favourites PSG are looking formidable after a remarkable run of form. It will seemingly take something pretty special from the likes of Lyon or Marseille to halt Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who reached the Champions League final last season.
Among all, the UEFA Champions League is the biggest and most anticipated competition across Europe. With clubs like Bayern Munich, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus, the competition this 2021 is going to be tough like it has always been.
The defending champions, Bayern look so strong to retain the trophy but with likes of the last year finalist PSG, it’s not going to be an easy run.
Moving away from Club football, 2020 was supposed to be the year for EURO 2020. A quadrennial international men’s football championship in Europe organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) which was suppose to hold between 12th of June and 12th of July 2020.
On 17 March 2020, UEFA announced that the tournament would be postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, and proposed it take place from 11 June to 11 July in 2021, which was confirmed on 17 June 2020. The competition was postponed in order to reduce pressure on the public services in COVID-19 affected countries and to allow time for the completion of domestic leagues that had been suspended. The tournament will still retain the name “UEFA Euro 2020”.
Fierceness and awesomeness would be expected from the competition as most of the best footballer across Europe football will be on the pitch. The defending champion, Portugal, will be hoping to have a rerun of the last tournament. With countries like Span, France, England, Germany, Belgium and Russia, the competition is expected to be interesting, fierce and fun for the fans
Overall, 2021 is set to be a loaded year for football in Europe and around the world. Champions League, Club Football and Euro 2020 will likely see the return of sold-out stadiums once again, something we haven’t seen at a major football event since March. We really can’t wait to see the excitement that is expected to transpire over the coming months.