2013 was one of those years between big tournaments with neither a World Cup, Copa America nor European Championship to savour.
That said we had the FIFA Confederations Cup which possibly saw the reign of Spain come to a crashing end as the World and European champions were thumped 3-0 by Brazil in the final in Rio.
Too much could be read into that match as the seleçao were always going to reap the advantage of the Maracana and the Confederations Cup anyway has nothing like the prestige of the longer-established trophies.
As a guide to the World Judi Online Domino99 Cup next summer, the tournament was also of limited utility. In the previous edition in South Africa in 2009, Spain were dumped out 2-0 by the USA in the semi-finals before lifting the World Cup a year later, while Brazil won the last Confederations Cup thrillingly, only to exit without a bang in the quarter-finals in South Africa.
Before we write the obituaries for La Roja, it should be noted Spain’s Under 21 team cruised to victory in the UEFA 2013 championship, a sign the domestic skills factory is still turning out the talent. The core of Vicente del Bosque’s senior side is not getting any younger but they still ended 2013 atop the FIFA World Rankings, with Germany in second, Argentina third and Brazil in tenth.
Reports of Spain’s demise have thus been exaggerated, but it will be a challenge for anyone to beat the host nation next summer, as history favours a South American triumph.
Tiki-taka, the magical playing formula which has reigned supreme for the last five years, also took a battering in 2013. Not only did Brazil’s pace and power dispatch Spain in the Confederations Cup but Barcelona’s golden age was cut short in dramatic fashion.
Barça had already lost Champions League ties to Celtic and Milan before they came up against Bayern Munich in May’s semi-final. A shocking 4-0 defeat in Germany was followed by a devastating 3-0 loss at the Camp Nou, conclusive proof it seemed that there were new kids on the block with better and sharper ideas.
Bayern used elements of tiki-taka in their style, and were second to Barcelona across Europe for the number of passes played, but the addition of two world-class wingers in Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben forged a faster and more powerful game.
4-2-3-1 remained the most popular formation in world football, but 4-4-2 started to make a comeback in England later in the year as managers experimented with a more attacking style and banked on defenders who had forgotten how to play against twin strikers. Elsewhere, Nigeria won the African Nations Cup and the USA the Gold Cup, while Costa Rica, Japan and the United Arab Emirates came out winners in regional competitions.
Bayern Munich was undoubtedly the club of the year, bagging the Bundesliga while breaking a number of domestic records, winning …