Sunday, December 24, 2017

Top 10 Best Teams of 2017

This is my highly personal list of what I consider the most noteworthy (not necessarily the best or my favourites!) teams of the football year 2017:

10) Gremio: Winners of the South American Copa Libertadores they became the third Brazilian club to take a third title. They represented South America in the Club World Cup.
9) Panama: Panama qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever in a dramatic final round of CONCACAF qualification which left the giant favourites of the USA out, and a small and underestimated Central American country with a huge and well-deserved party!
8) Manchester City: After a 2016/17 season without titles Manchester City is now a well-oiled machine under Pep Guardiola, leading the Premier League in style, and so far cruising through the Champions League. Although they went out of the 2016/17 Champions League in the last-16 against Monaco, that was plausibly the most incredible match of a year with many incredible matches.
7) Manchester United: Jose Mourinho is the easiest man to dislike in modern football, but one cannot deny his amazing skills as a manager; after some initial difficulties he is taking Manchester United back to the top. They won the Europa League, have cruised during their return to the CL (and must be considered favourites against Seville in the last-16) and are the greatest threat against Manchester City's dominance in the Premier League.
6) Chelsea: Winners of the Premier League (and FA Cup finalists only to lose to their rivals of Arsenal), they have nevertheless had more difficulty in the PL this season, as other teams have made things more difficult. In any case they are through in the CL, where they will face mighty Barcelona.
5) Wydad Casablanca: a fantastic football year for Morocco (who also qualified for their first World Cup since 1986) is best represented by the success of Wydad Casablanca, who won their second CAF Champions League title ever in a memorable two-legged final against Al-Ahly.
4) Paris St. Germain: After winning the league for 4 seasons in a row the French title in the 2016/17 season went to Monaco, which was a disappointment for the ambitious French side, who also were eliminated from the CL in a memorable but disappointing two-legged clash against Barcelona. But with the arrival of Neymar Paris St. Germain are one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe, and are first in the league as well as have been playing outstandingly in the CL, where they will face Real Madrid in what promises to be one of the most exciting matches in 2018.
3) Juventus: Juventus won the Italian league in 2017 for the sixth season in a row, and made it to their second CL final in three years, disappointingly losing to Real Madrid. They have struggled more in the new season, as they trail Napoli in Serie A. In the CL they trailed Barcelona in the group stage, but will face up and coming Tottenham in a very interesting last-16 encounter.
2) Real Madrid: Had it not been for their last few months, where they trail Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia in the Spanish league, they may have made first spot. However, nobody can deny that they had a great year, taking the Spanish title, the Champions League title, the Spanish Super Cup, and the Club World Cup. Undoubtedly a great side is in a low form currently.
1) Netherlands Women: During a year when Dutch men's football had a horrible year, and national team football was generally boring, the women gave us a fantastic European Championship (far better than the men's in 2016), won in a memorable final by the Dutch hosts against a great Danish side. The Netherlands are my team of the year!

Some other teams who deserve to be on the list, but did not make the top ten are FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Valencia, Monaco, Independiente, Tigres de UANL, FC Qarabag, Brøndby, Denmark's women, Cameroon, Iceland, Trinidad & Tobago...

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