I usually do a list of my favourite football teams in a year, and in fact I find that it has been particularly difficult this year, also considering that there has been a World Cup and some very exciting league results. But at the same time a lot of teams have disappointed: Brazil (who almost always appears on my lists) most of all with its pathetic display in the World Cup, but also other sides have been very disappointing either because of results or their style: Spain, Netherlands, Manchester United, Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan...
So my list looks as follows:
10) Sevilla: Many Spanish teams are trying to challenge the rule of the big Spanish sides. Although Seville is far from achieving this, they still managed to go all the way in the Europa League, winning the final against the cursed Benfica.
9) Manchester City: The Premier League winners had to be stable and rely on Liverpool's slips to take the league title.
They have stumbled in the Champions League, but memorable victories
against Bayern Munich and AS Roma have ensured that they are still alive
8) San Lorenzo de Almagro: The small Argentina club came to prominence when one of their avid supporters became Pope Francis I. And perhaps it was divine intervention when they went all the unlikely way to win the Copa Libertadores against Nacional from Paraguay.
7) Algeria: African sides largely disappointed again in Brazil. Except for Algeria, who played optimistic football and gave the later world champions a great match.
6) Costa Rica: The Ticos were the great darlings of the 2014 World Cup. Nobody would have guessed they could win a group ahead of three former world champions, and were only penalty kicks away from fighting themselves into the semifinals. Fantastic spirits and awesome fans really made Costa Rica one of the best in the world.
5) Germany Women's U-20: Yes, Germany became World Champion in 2014. Not just in Brazil, but also in Canada, where the young German ladies defeated Nigeria in the final to take the world title. The 2015 Women's World Cup will be in Canada, and be sure that there will be some very exciting sides!
4) Bayern Munich: Bayern Munich have not been as great in 2013, but only because they did not win the Champions League when they were routed by Real Madrid. But they have been awesome in the German league, beating record after record, and played a memorable match when routing AS Roma in Rome in the Champions League.
3) Atletico Madrid: After nine years of total Barcelona-Real Madrid dominance in the Spanish league it was only wonderfully refreshing when Atletico Madrid took the league title. They did not play beautiful football, but efficient counter-attacking, and this also put them all the way in the Champions League final, where they were only a minute away from taking the title.
2) Real Madrid: Under Carlo Ancelotti the team has grown to look more like a football team than a bunch of stars. In this context, Cristiano Ronaldo has outshone his fellow superstars such as Benzema, Bale, James, Modric, Kroos, etc. Although they did not take the Spanish title, they took the Copa del Rey, the Champions League title, and seem set towards taking the league in 2015.
1) Germany: There is one footballing nation above all others: Germany showed in Brazil that they have far surpassed the South Americans in technique and tactics to become awesome World Champions. Germany will be powerful for the foreseeable future and were surely the team of the year in 2014!