2021 is over. The year in which all of Spain saw the world of football fall in love with the best soccer player on the planet. Alexia Putellas won the Ballon d’Or, backed by an exalted female Barça who won all the competitions they played. 2021 has also been the year of reunions: that of Atleti with LaLiga or that of the fans with the stadiums. However, there have also been goodbyes, the kind that hurt: Messi and Sergio Ramos have left the clubs where they have achieved practically everything to start a campaign together at Paris Saint Germain.
This period of time has also served to see unprecedented things: Villarreal winning a Europa League or several European clubs organizing to create a competition behind the backs of organizations such as FIFA or UEFA, which received the name of Superliga.
Alexia Putellas, queen of football
Alexia Putellas conquered the throne of world football after winning the Ballon d’Or in 2021. The FC Barcelona midfielder won the highest individual award on her own merits after reaping a great season with the Barça team. The captain has managed to win all the titles she has played with her club and has taken the name of Spanish women’s football to the top.
This feat is, without a doubt, a before and after for our sport. Only Luis Suárez Miramontes in the 1960s had won a Ballon d’Or as a Spanish footballer. In this way, Alexia becomes a source of pride and also a model of vindication for all those girls who want to be soccer players when they grow up. Putellas is your example to follow.
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Luis Enrique’s Spain amazes Europe
Immersed in a continuous controversy after knowing the list of summoned for the Eurocup, the Spanish team was gaining confidence through results and good play. Luis Enrique, main head and executor of the good work of ‘La Roja’, managed to get all the fans to regain their illusion in a team that had gone unnoticed since Euro 2012.
The road was difficult, but a semi-final against Italy and a League of Nations final against France made the entire old continent value what Spain has achieved. With a team that perfectly mixes youth and seniority, they already have the ability to look the best teams in the world in the eye.
Argentina, Italy and Chelsea: the priority of the collective
Italy and Chelsea are two very similar teams: solid, strong, punchy and with a very deep idea of sacrifice. Both have triumphed by winning the highest title in which they have competed: the Eurocup and the Champions League, respectively. This 2021 has also served to reward the collective over the individual and in that aspect the two teams have coexisted.
Argentina also falls within this block, but with a difference: the supremacy of Leo Messi. The Albiceleste team once again raised a Copa América almost twenty years later for the excellence of its captain, but also for the strength of a team that knew how to suffer to reach the final. There, he beat Brazil, his greatest rival, with a lone goal from Ángel Di María.
Crying, goodbyes … and reunion
Leo Messi has also been the protagonist in 2021 for his farewell to Barça. Both he and Sergio Ramos have left the club where they have achieved practically everything. With tears in their eyes, they said goodbye to what has probably been the happiest time of their lives. The two LaLiga emblems left a competition that they left orphaned as a leader.
Rivals at Barça and Real Madrid, both were seduced by the Paris Saint Germain project. Leo and Sergio have opened a new stage of their lives in France, with the tranquility of having already achieved everything and with the responsibility of expanding new horizons.
The illusion of a town becomes reality
Just over 50,000 inhabitants has a population of the Valencian Community that on the night of May 26 exploded with pure happiness. Villarreal managed to bring his city nothing more and nothing less than a Europa League. A trophy that he fought until the end and that is that each footballer of the two teams took a penalty. In the decider, Rulli guessed David De Gea’s intentions to give the title to Unai Emery’s pupils.
Football owed one to the ‘yellow submarine’ in European competition and it succeeded in style. It is a very difficult feat to beat that of this team, which despite not being LaLiga favorites, has managed to prevail in Europe and make 2021 a year that they will not easily forget. Villarreal proclaimed themselves, on their own merits, the best team on the European continent alongside Chelsea.
Seven years later, a League is once again ‘mattress’
Atlético de Madrid has the privilege of saying that it has won one of the most unusual leagues in the history of the competition. A tournament marked by empty stadiums and by the protocols established by the coronavirus, fell on the side of the Simeone team. The rojiblanco team enjoyed a wide advantage throughout LaLiga, which they almost lost in the last days, but which finally helped them win the trophy.
Now, in his 10 years as coach of Atlético de Madrid, Simeone still has a pending path. The Argentine coach has his only remaining ballot in the Champions League in his career at the head of the rojiblanco team. He was on the verge of doing so in 2014 and 2016, but Real Madrid got in his way. Now, with what for many is the best Atlético de Madrid squad in its recent history, he seeks to gain the long-awaited ‘orejona’.
The Superliga a competition … ephemeral?
Officially announced on April 19, 2021, the Super League appeared in the lives of all football fans to break the schemes of the sport as it had previously been known. A competition that encompassed the best teams from the old continent appeared to unite them all in a format similar to that of a league. However, most of the teams that formed it decided to leave the project and today, only Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus follow.
One of the great unknowns of this new year is to know the course that this Super League will take and see if it is finally viable that it ends up being produced. This is the topic that has created the most controversy due to the number of advantages and disadvantages it has. In addition, everything indicates that 2022 will not be different, so the Super League will appear in endless gatherings and debates.
The return of the fans, the return of football
Being able to listen to the orders of the coaches, the protests to the referees or the directions of the captains has been one of the best things that pandemic football has left us. However, we were all hoping that those sounds were modified by the fans. The stadiums, again full of people, have been the best news of this 2021.
It is true that this aspect is closely related to the evolution of the pandemic and that it will determine whether a field can be more or less full, but the important thing is that there are fans in their seats again. Hopefully it will always be 100%, but under what circumstances that percentage will drop. The relevant and the most positive aspect of this aspect is being able to see the fans enjoying themselves again with their teams, because they are the emotion and the most fundamental aspect of football.
Muguruza, new tennis teacher
Beyond football, there is an event in 2021 that is worth highlighting. Garbiñe Muguruza became the champion of the Teachers’ Cup after defeating the Estonian Kontaveit 6-4, 7-5. No tennis player in our country had previously achieved it and it is a milestone in the history of national sport. I’m sure she doesn’t easily forget this 2021 either.