Year in review: The biggest football surprises of 2016
The year 2016 was a lot like trying to score in Football Star slot. The Football Star is much like all other slots at 7 Sultans, having its ups and downs, and being completely unpredictable. This year was much like spinning the wheel of a 7 Sultans slot machine: you expect the best but sometimes end up with a less-than-ideal result – and sometimes you lose. But sometimes you do win – let the 7 Sultans’ Winners Wall stand as an example. The same was the case with 2016, a year that had its share of surprises for football fans. Let’s review the biggest of them all.
Lionel Messi is one of the most popular players ever, not only in his home country but all over the world – this is not a surprise. It was, in turn, a pretty unpleasant surprise when he announced his retirement from international football. As you might expect, his fans in Argentina and beyond were not happy with the decision – a large-scale campaign was sparked asking him to return to the field. #NoTeVayasLeo became a global trending topic on social networks. Fans didn’t campaign in the virtual space alone, though – it culminated in a meeting attended by over 50,000 supporters in Buenos Aires.
After such an expression of affection, Messi couldn’t afford to stay away from football – he returned to the field in Argentina’s FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier against Uruguay, scoring the team’s only (winning) goal.
Iceland’s Euro 2016 performance
Iceland is a small island-state, known for its extended use of geothermal energy, and its liberal approach to nudity. Not football – at least not until this year’s Euro 2016.
This year, Iceland’s national football team participated in its first major international tournament and went on to finish second in its group. What’s even more surprising, it beat England 2 to 1 in their Round of 16 match which was not only a surprise but a major disappointment for English football fans, given that it’s the home country of football.
Leicester City barely escaped relegation in the 2014-2015 Premier League season. Its poor performance was the sign it needed a major overhaul, which it got by signing a couple of new players and Claudio Ranieri as a coach. The effects of these changes were felt immediately: by last Christmas, The Foxes topped the Premier League standings and kept their position until the final. A year ago, nobody thought it was possible for the City to pull off such a feat, not even when it climbed to the top spot in the standings. Their successful season was one of the biggest football surprises of 2016.
Sources: cbssports.com / bbc.co.uk