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Nisar Khan

Nisar is the founder, lead writer and CEO of SportingMatrix. He covers all sports from football to UFC and the Olympics. Nisar first started writing on his personal blog back in 2012 and has continued to cover sports ever since. Nisar also hosts CATCHWEIGHT, a weekly podcast on the world of combat sports. You can find all of his posts below.




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2014 Year in Review: Football


The year of 2014 will go down as one of the greatest in the history of football. A year which captivated us all, a year which evoked emotion from us be it despair or jubilation, and a year which made football fans incredibly proud to share a passion for the game.

Germany were crowned World Champions after a spectacular World Cup in Brazil, Real Madrid finally got their hands on La Decima, while Atletico made history by capturing the La Liga title. Messi broke records, Ronaldo spearheaded the dominant Blancos, and stars rised, plus so much more.

Here, I review all that has happened during an extraordinary year in the game, with videos, pictures, Tweets and more.
One of the greatest footballing years in recent memory.
City crowned Champions after incredible Premier League season

A relentless title race, plethora of amazing moments and a vast amount of reasons to love the English Premier League. At the end of it all, Man City stood tall, but that would be after fighting tooth and nail. Along with the title race, there was the Moyes' malaise as he was sacked from the United job, Everton's rise, Arsenal's woes and just so many moments making us proud to be fans of the beautiful game.
What a season.
Manchester United's demise was a hot theme for the first few months of the year, as the Moyes' saga reached tipping point. They crashed out of the Champions League in the Quarter-Finals against Bayern Munich, but it was their league form which saw the end to the Scotsman's run in charge. Crushing defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool put the magnifying glass on their woes, before Everton crushed David Moyes' side 2-0 which would prove to be his final game in charge. With Ryan Giggs provisionally taking over, they managed to heal some wounds but at the end of it all, they were relieved when it ended.
David Moyes in charge of United was a turbulent tenure. Image: NDTV Sports
With the title race keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, down at the bottom teams found themselves in an exhilarating battle for safety from relegation. One of the stories of the season was Sunderland's remarkable revival. Things were looking daunting mid-April when they found themselves being sucked in by the vicious void of the drop zone following five successive defeats. After that, however, they went on to draw with Manchester City before four straight wins—including defeating Chelsea to end Mourinho's unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge—to scrape themselves out and keep fighting in the English top flight.
Conor Wickham, among other strikers, stepped up to the mark to save the Black Cats. Image: Express.co.uk

Liverpool's whirlwind escalation into the title race was a major element of a truly wonderful second half to the Premier League season. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge racked up goal after goal as the Reds amassed a startling 11-game win streak in the league. Undefeated, the Reds turned a new corner at the start of the year, before shocking the World as they dismantled Arsenal with a merciless 5-1 destruction to the Gunners at Anfield. As each game passed, and each dramatic win was in the books, more heads started to turn, and belief continued to mount.

Searching for a second title win in three seasons, Manchester City kept up the searing pace as Manuel Pellegrini shone in his first season in charge at the Etihad. The Citizens burst into the new year with heaps of momentum having dispatched Liverpool on boxing day. With both on huge runs of momentum, all would come to a head when they met at Anfield on Hillsborough weekend.
A fitting tribute to the Hillsborough victims and a real sign of what football is all about. Image: Getty Images
A sellout crowd at Anfield, with emotion and anticipation through the roof while the JFT96 displays stood in harmony. The magnitude of the occasion was tectonic. The Reds had it won by half-time after Sterling and Skrtel marked their names on the scoresheet. However, they felt themselves lose a grasp of that lead in the second half when David Silva's goal was added to by an own goal from Glen Johnson, making the game even. That, of course, was until Philippe Coutinho unleashed a pivotal strike to ignite the passion and belief, as Liverpool went onto win. The title was now a huge possibility.

a It was as if they were on the home straight to historic glory. They dramatically scraped past Norwich before their true date with destiny—hosting Chelsea at Anfield. A costly error from skipper Steven Gerrard would witness their run crumble and disintegrate into doubt after a slip put Demba Ba through for the opener. Late on, with belief sinking, Willian added another as Liverpool's hopes took a colossal blow just two games away from the end of the season.
A distraught Gerrard realises what could have been. Image: Telegraph.co.uk
While Manchester City dispatched Crystal Palace through the magic of Yaya Toure, the Reds still had every chance of getting their hands on the esteemed silverware. Those hopes remained fully intact when they found themselves 3-0 up against Crystal Palace on a cold Monday night in London. But, one of the most incredible games of the season saw the Eagles congregate an extraordinary comeback leaving Suarez and others in desolation. The tears of the Uruguayan would ultimately conclude the last time in which he would score for Liverpool.

Manchester City waltzed past Aston Villa signified by another brilliant Yaya Toure goal to surely solidify the title, although the Champions would have to be decided on the final day of the season. Things started horribly for Liverpol at Anfield, as an own goal from Martin Skrtel put it all in favour of Manchester City. The hosts would come back to fight and win, but as City did the same against West Ham United, Pellegrini's men triumphed for an unprecedented second title in three seasons. 

A spectacular season delivered spectacular champions, Manchester City.
The blue moon dawns again for the great Manchester City. Image: © PA
Astonishing Atletico dreams come true

Big money was spent to nourish the heavyweights of La Liga. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Nonetheless, when the curtain was drawn on the season, all belonged to the miraculous Atletico Madrid, as Diego Simeone's side charged to a remarkable title triumph.
Atletico take home a huge piece of history with their title win. Image: Andres Kudacki / Associated Press
Ending the 10-year cycle of Barca/Real victories, a team driven on passion and pure football took home the honours. Broken off from the rest of the pack, Los Colchoneros topped the league with Barcelona and Real Madrid behind tied at 87 points each. A defensive evolution from the genius of Simeone saw them score 77 goals, 23 less than the Catalans and 27 less than their city rivals Real Madrid. Yet, just one extra win compared to their counterparts was enough to claim the title.

On a dramatic culmination to the season, they found themselves playing inside the mesmerizing Nou Camp knowing that if they avoided defeat, they would be crowned Champions. Alexis Sanchez opened up the scoring with his final goal for the hosts, but Diego Godin's strike after the interval would ultimately lead to the draw, and Atletico's fragment of history.

Domestic cups

Rewinding slightly, Manuel Pellegrini collected his first trophy in charge of Manchester City when they saw off Sunderland at Wembley in a terrific Capital One Cup final. Battling relegation at the time, the Black Cats believed they were on the verge of an unbelievable conquest after Fabio Borini's brilliant strike put them up at the interval. Cruelly, yet in some sort of pathetic fallacy, it was the beauty of the goals which would undo the Tyne-Wear contingent. Yaya Toure saw his long-range bullet aggressively ripple the net, before Samir Nasri's superb goal changed the complexion of the contest. Drained and left vulnerable in search of an equaliser, Jesus Navas pounced to make it 3-1, as City's class would shine through in the English capital.

Two and a half months later on the same pitch, it was Arsenal who jubilantly hoisted another domestic cup, ending a silverware drought spanning nearly a decade in dramatic fashion. Underdogs Hull City scored through the unexpected source of James Chester to take the lead and ignite their hopes for one of the upsets of the season. Arsenal were left in a muddle of confusion in the eighth minute when a strike from Davies put the unbelievable into reality. Santi Cazorla installed tons of life back into the contest with a truly spectacular free-kick, before late in the second-half, Laurent Koscielny put the game on level terms. Their comeback was completed through Aaron Ramsey prodding in with a stark reflex and in the most enthralling of ways, the Gunners would hold silverware aloft once more.

In Spain, the unstoppable pace of Gareth Bale gifted Real Madrid the Copa del Rey, defeating Barcelona in the cup final. Angel Di Maria provided them an early lead at the Mestalla before Marc Bartra guided in in the 68th minute. One of the most incredible goals of the year would be the winner, as Gareth Bale whirled past Jordi Alba at phenomenal speeds to tap it past Pinto and steal it from the Catalans. The most-expensive footballer on the planet, a Welshman, thrived in the top heights of the Spanish game.

Bayern, Paris & Juventus dominate elsewhere

In Italy, the class of Juventus was far superior to any other competitors as they claimed a 30th Serie A title 17 points ahead of second-place Roma. While Vecchia Signora picked up a third straight title in a row, the season spelt more trouble for the Milan sides, as Inter finished fifth while AC Milan dropped to eighth place. While the season did revolve around a meteoric rise on the part of Roma, who turned many heads with their performances in the season, a surprising 4-1 defeat to Catania clinched the title with three games still left to be played.
An emphatic thirtieth title for the sublime Juventus. Image: TheHardTackle.com
Paris Saint-Germain marched to back-to-back titles for the first time in their history as they revelled in Ligue 1 glory. Only losing three times in the league—two of them with the title pretty much won in the final games of the season—the richest club in France finished nine points clear atop the table. Laurent Blanc's men added an exclamation mark to their success as their talent-stacked side thrashed Montpellier 4-0 on the final day of the season.
The jubilant occupants of the French capital embrace their huge title win. Image: © AP
Bayern Munich under the guidance of footballing mastermind Pep Guardiola exemplified their domination on the German platform, emphatically clinching the title with seven games to spare. They did so going undefeated until the point of clinching the title against Hertha Berlin. Somewhat complacent though, the game after, they saw their win-streak come to an end following a 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim. Two losses in a row included Borussia Dortmund defeating them 3-0, but that wouldn't matter as the German giants had it all clinched and wrapped up in quick time. They looked unstoppable, and quite frankly, were.
Bayern were no match for their Bundesliga opponents in a blissful season under Pep Guardiola. Image: Ahram (English)
Sevilla tie record with Europa league

In Turin, Italy, Sevilla and Benfica went down to the wire for the second biggest prize in European football, the Europa League. Through both regulation and extra-time, the cagey affair at the Juventus Stadium saw neither side be able to seize the initiative and take the lead. The dreaded spot-kicks would be the final solution. Two saves by Sevilla's heroic Beto thwarted Benfica, condemning them to a successive defeat in the final, while the Spaniards clinched a third title, tying the record for most Europa League victories.
Sevilla joyous in celebration after their nail-biting cup win. Image: Vir.com
Atletico hearts broken in thrilling Champions League final as La Decima finally comes

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid went through very unique pathways on their trip to the UEFA Champions League final. Ancelotti's Real stole the headlines and caused shockwaves throughout the sporting World when they demolished Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu, while Atletico dismissed Chelsea with a classy display.
It was stoppage time, and Atletico were on the verge of taking Europe's crown. Another big-time goal from Diego Godin in the first-half had stood until the final moments. All seemed over for Los Blancos—La Decima would have to wait once more, they thought. Yet, one specific time will live in Real memories for an eternity, 92:48. On that second, under the watchful eyes of the Portugese capital, Sergio Ramos crushed the hearts of Diego Simeone's men, taking the game to extra time as he headed a bullet past Thibaut Courtois. Dejected, wilted and withered, eventually, the resistance wouldn't hold.

Gareth Bale crept in a header, Marcelo's long-range strike found the back of the net, before Cristiano Ronaldo sealed their victory with a penalty in the most harsh of results. All seemed to crumble and capitulate cruelly for the newly-crowned La Liga Champions who were so close, yet so far of taking the position as the European kingpin.
The goalscorers as Real Madrid capture La Decima. 
La Decima had arrived, after all those years of waiting.
Proving themselves as Europe's best, once again. Image: TheTimes.co.uk
With club football done and dusted, it was time for the Summer. The summer that contained one of the most incredible World Cups in history.

World Cup

The greatest spectacle on Earth emanated from Brazil in the Summer, and it was more than worth the four-year wait after the magic of the tournament on South African soil. Ultimately, it was Germany who were crowned Champions but on a path to doing so, there were countless moments that made everyone proud to be a football fan.
Hosts Brazil kicked off the tournament with a lot of weight upon their relatively young shoulders. In a dramatic opening game, a horrific error from Marcelo saw Croatia take the lead through an own goal. It would have been disaster, had the special talent of one young Neymar not stepped up and delivered big time. A brace from the Barcelona winger followed up by Oscar's goal foreshadowed their tough ride ahead.
Prodigy: Neymar rises to the occasion for his nation.
Netherlands made one of the biggest statements of the year when they demolished World Champions Spain in a rematch from the 2010 final. Despite the World Champions taking the lead through Xabi Alonso's penalty, Robin van Persie responded withbe one of the goals of the year when he netted a sensational diving header to reinvigorate the Oranje spirits. 
Time changes. Image: CBS Sports
Arjen Robben got two after the break, Robin van Persie got one more to his collection and Stefan de Vrij made up the tally as Van Gaal's men dismantled the Spaniards in Salvador. They wouldn't recover and would ultimately crash out of the tournament following a loss to Chile.
One team which captured the imagination throughout the tournament were Costa Rica. They stunned Uruguay in their first game, then Bryan Ruiz staggered Italy in their second. A draw with England in their final game would sent them through to the knockouts. Speaking of England, the Three Lions had a treacherous tenure in South America. Things were looking positive in the Rumble in the Jungle when they took on Italy in Manaus, but a Balotelli winner would set them back. Likewise, Luis Suarez dismissed critics when he pushed England on the verge of elimination. For all the positivity displayed, Hodgson's men were unable to get anything from it.

Colombia kickstarted their meteoric campaign as they outclassed Greece in a masterclass performance and then dismissed Ivory Coast in their next game. Amazing action continued to unload thick and fast when Haris Seferovic sealed a stoppage-time winner for Switzerland against Ecuador. All eyes would then turn to the Maracana, when Lionel Messi braced it as Argentina battled World Cup newbies Bosnia-Herzegovina. The magical Messi scored a second-half strike which ultimately proved the difference. Messi continued to perform, winning all three Man of the Match awards for his performances, lifting Albiceleste to comfort.
The euphoric Colombians were one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. Image: IbiTimes
Group G was arguably the most entertaining over the opening phase. Germany, who would go on to become World Champions, made their mark as they were merciless in condemning Portugal to a 4-0 defeat. Pepe was sent off in a moment of madness following an altercation with Thomas Muller during the game. Events proved much closer when Ghana and USA met later in the day. The American Dream was fuelled from start to finish when Clint Dempsey scored just a minute in, but they would need John Brooks to head home in the dying stages to give them a win as they set on their quest to turn everyone's opinion.

Brooks couldn't believe it himself. Image: TIME
Another goal of the year candidate would transpire in a game featuring the Dutch. However, this time they were on the opposing end, as Tim Cahill scored a spectacular volley for the Aussies. Chile and Netherlands would however go onto qualify from that group. Things were differentiated in Group A, after a delightful performance from Guillermo Ochoa kept Brazil out against Mexico. With still some work to do for both sides, they got down to it and qualified for the knockout phase.
Tim Cahill with a superb strike. Image: © AP
One team looking rejuvenated and re-energised to take the World by storm were France. A new-look side demolished Honduras with a 3-0 victory before they fired five past Switzerland in one of the best group games of the tournament. They wouldn't be able to find that same form against Ecuador, after a spirited performance in between the sticks would restrain them to a goal-less draw.
On a Mission: France dismissed many-a-critic in their World Cup run. Image: Nigerian Echo
Meanwhile, Group G just continued to thrill. Miroslav Klose equalled the record for most goals scored in World Cup history as he salvaged a point for Germany in an exhilarating 2-2 result against Ghana. USA and Germany prevailed, through all those thrills, from that group, seeing Germany top the Americans in the final group game, while Ronaldo scored a first World Cup goal as Portugal topped Ghana.
Belgium hardly amazed in their group run, but they did win whichever way possible. In their first game, they found themselves trailing against Algeria before Fellaini and Mertens came to their aid off the bench. Divock Origi scored an 88th minute winner for them to top Russia, then another late goal from Jan Vertonghen saw them finish with a 100% win record. Algeria joined them from the group with a ruthless win against South Korea proving the ultimate factor.
Algeria celebrate their history making achievement, as they got to the Round of 16. Image: Getty
An ugly encounter in Natal would feature not only the most controversial moment of the tournament, but possibly one of the biggest of the year. Diego Godin's header saw off Italy as Uruguay qualified from their group, but that was following a rash moment of madness from Luis Suarez. The forward in fact bit Chilleini on the shoulder, which the referee didn't see, and days later he would be banned. This meant he would miss the rest of the World Cup games and after signing for Barcelona, he would have to wait more than two months to make a competitive start in Spain.
A furious Chilleini appeals to the referee while Suarez is in pain too. Image: Telegraph.co.uk
Colombia typified their class as they brushed off Japan to make it 3 wins in 3. A brace from Jackson Martinez was capped off by a classy chip from James Rodriguez to project the famous Colombian celebrations across the Globe. In the same group, Ivory Coast hearts were broken after a stoppage time penalty from Georgios Samaras sent the Greeks through to the Round of 16. 
Samaras breaks hearts around Africa with the late penalty. Image: The Cambodia Herald
The group stage had already delivered so many incredible moments, goals and heroic performances. But, Brazil's time as hosts was far from over, and it would prove to get even better. Penalties would be the resolution of the hosts' thrilling clash with Chile in the first knockout game, then it was another all-South-American matchup when Colombia topped Uruguay. James Rodriguez, once again, showed the World what he is about, catching a jaw-dropping volley from outside the box to let everyone know his name once more. "Hames", not James. 

Colombia and Brazil would meet in a fantastic quarter-final, where an insane David Luis free-kick brought the Colombian dream to an end, even following a late Rodriguez penalty. More emotion was on display from both parties. However, a red-card to Thiago Silva and injury to Neymar left Brazil extremely shorthanded.
A great show of respect as David Silva commends the star that is James Rodriguez. Image: Jornal GGN
Arjen Robben stole the headlines for diving controversy but that would take nothing away from Netherlands' dramatic win over Mexico. In a match that included the first official "cooling break" of the tournament after soaring high temperatures in Fortaleza, Wesley Sneijder salvaged 30 more minutes when he was able to cancel out Giovani dos Santos' earlier goal. In extra-time, Rafa Marquez fouled Arjen Robben, according to the referee at least, and a penalty was awarded. Huntelaar put the controversy to rest, calmly beating Ochoa for the win. Later that day, Costa Rica's dream run would live on. Los Ticos braved the penalty shootout thanks to Keylor Navas' lone save which ended a streak of perfect penalties. Spot kicks would again be utilised when Netherlands pipped Costa Rica to reach the semi-finals. A genius move from Van Gaal to bring on Tim Krul for Jasper Cileseen resulted in Krul making two cruel penalty saves as Netherlands made it to the last four.
Tim Krul the hero for Netherlands. Image: NorthBankUpper.com
Africa met it's day of destiny when two African sides went on to take on two giants from the European continent. Nigeria held out against the French machine, but it could only last so long, as Pogba scored in the 80th minute then forced an own goal for Les Bleus to reach the semis. Germany found things much tougher against an Algerian side driven on revenge from the controversy of their last meeting. Joachim Low's men were rather taken aback from the blitz that occurred in the first half, and risky antics from Neuer resulted in a close shave although after 90 minutes it would remain a stalemate and go to extra-time. Andre Schurrle delivered the first blow just two minutes in, Mesut Ozil added another in the stoppages, but it would be far from over. A late strike from Djabou ignited the belief once again for the African side, but time would run out and Germany hung on. 
Hummels' header against France saw Germany through to the semi-finals. Image: TalkSport
A cagey and tight affair at the Maracana would see Germany top France in the subsequent semi-final, with a header from Mats Hummels early in the first half proving the difference. 
Switzerland met Argentina with a chance to break into the quarter-finals. They hung on, with admirable resilience and defiance, taking the South Americans to extra-time. With penalties now looming in the 118th minute, Lionel Messi found Angel Di Maria to slot home the winning goal as Argentina stunningly found their way through. Despite an outstanding, record-breaking 16-save goalkeeping performance by Tim Howard, the American Dream would come to an end after Belgium halted USA.
De Bruyne was first to break through in extra-time, then Lukaku doubled the lead. They held out against a late Brooks' goal and survived. What a game. Argentina met Belgium in the Quarter-Finals, with Higuain firing them through. It was all set. In the semi-finals, Brazil would meet Germany, and Netherlands would clash with Argentina.
Higuain's strike sinks Belgium. Image: The Guardian
One of the most shocking results in World Cup history would take place. In Belo Horizonte, Brazil's dream was not only ended, but smashed into smithereens at the hands of a merciless dismantlement from Germany. The nation watched on in horror as Thomas Muller opened the scoring, before Miroslav Klose became the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer. Then, a double from Kroos and Khedira's goal made it a shocking 5-0 after less than half-an-hour. Schurrle extended the lead to 7 in the second half, while Oscar got one back when the game was all over. Germany created shockwaves of incomprehensible magnitude.
The second semi-final would see Netherlands seal their fate with the spot-kicks, although this time their luck would run out. Goalless after two hours of football, a penalty shootout would see Argentina make it through. After Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder were unsuccessful, Maxi Rodriguez slotted it home as Sabella's team had mate it to the grand final with a chance to get the most treasured prize on Earth.
To the final they went. Image: © Getty Images
First though, there was another score to be settled. Netherlands took third place after Brazil would suffer more humiliation in the capital. Van Persie scored from early on with Selecao clearly sporting the wounds of their humiliation against Germany, before Blind bagged a second for the Dutch and Wijnaldum scored late on to pile further misery upon Scolari's scarred side.
Third place for the Oranje was a certainty from the outset. Image: Zimbio
Then, for the final. The most watched 90 minutes across the Globe. At the Maracana, it was down to Germany and Argentina to be crowned World Champions. Both sides were like-for-like, with it being goalless right until extra-time. Palacio missed a sitter, so did Higuain. A captivating contest kept everyone's eyes on the pitch, and it would be a German golden boy who would deliver their fourth World title.
The moment of a goal. Image: ABC Sports
Miroslav Klose was substituted for Mario Gotze, retiring from International football with the record for most goals scored in the history of the tournament. It would be his substitute that delivered Germany the World Cup in the most fitting of fashion. Schurrle found him from the left, allowing the Bayern star to guide it past Romero as the youngest player on the pitch broke Argentinian hearts.
Triumph. Image: SportsNet.ca
That was that. 64 phenomenal games. 1 incredible month of football. And fitting Champions at the end of it all, Germany. As the sun set upon the beautiful Maracana in Rio, the curtain would draw with Germany atop celebrating the monumental occasion. 

One of the greatest World Cups in history.

Transfer window

Luis Suarez made a £65m+ switch to Barcelona from Liverpool in arguably the biggest transfer deal over the summer. The Uruguayan apologised for biting Chilleini before signing on with the Spanish giants. Strikers moving seemed to be a theme over the summer, at least for the big ones anyway. Diego Costa made his move to Stamford Bridge, Falcao joined United on loan and Lewandowski linked up with Bayern Munich.
Barcelona waved Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas with both ending up in London. The Chilean joined Arsenal in the region of £35 million, while Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea. Both have proved to be more than worth their respective prices, giving a new edge to their team.
Alexis Sanchez's performances for Arsenal have been sublime thus far. Image: Sky Sports
Manchester United weren't reluctant to splash the cash in order to reconcile from a tumultuous season. They smashed the record for the highest British transfer, as Angel Di Maria made the switch from the Bernabeu to Old Trafford for around £59.7 million. Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and a few others were also signed up.

Liverpool, looking to soften the blow of Suarez's departure, signing three players from Southampton in Lambert, Lallana and Lovren. In addition, they purchased Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and Mario Balotelli—of who flopped, scoring only two goals and none in the Premier League—over the year.
Balotelli's dejection has been a common sight for Liverpool this season. Image: The Independent
Real Madrid meanwhile got busy. They signed World Cup winner Toni Kroos, while Xabi Alonso moved to Bayern. They also snapped up Colombian star James Rodriguez.
Madrid's signings have continued to roll in success. Image: ESPN FC
Real Madrid roll

A dominant finish for Real Madrid would start with topping Sevilla to take home the Super Cup and add it to their filling trophy cabinet. Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals for the honours. 

It was far from an easy start, though. Atletico Madrid achieved payback from their Champions League loss by taking the Spanish Super Cup, and they suffered consecutive losses in their first few La Liga games.

Then, they burst into action. 22 straight victories would follow that.
Ruthless: Real Madrid have won 22 straight games to end 2014. Image: Getty
Including an El Clasico domination of Barcelona, winning all their Champions League group games and finally hoisting the FIFA Club World Cup in North-West Africa, Real Madrid showed the World what they are about.

An unprecedented winstreak: WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid could win everything next year. It's possible, they are looking absolutely invincible.
Real Madrid finish the year with their hands on the FIFA Club World Cup. Image: CNN
Chelsea lead in Premier League

One half was done and dusted of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season was in the books. Chelsea lead, Manchester City followed and Liverpool were nowhere to be found. In fact, it was as if a curse had struck the Merseyside area, with Everton falling too. Manchester United collated a resurgence, Southampton too, and yet again the league was making a claim to be the best in the World.
Chelsea are hot favourites to win the title. Image: Sky Sports
Diego Costa was firing in at will for the Blues, while his compatriot Cesc Fabregas continued to deliver assist after assist as Chelsea went undefeated right until December. That was of course until they fell into the path of Newcastle, themselves reforming after Alan Pardew was pushed on the verge of a sack.
Sergio Aguero had kept City's title race up and living. Image: TalkSport
Manchester City put up a chase at some rampant pace. Sergio Aguero spear-headed their frontline until the Argentine would be ruled out with injury against Everton. Yaya Toure, David Silva and others found the form to keep up the pace.

Manchester United did take some time to find their feet under Louis van Gaal, but when they did managed to put an impressive stance for themselves. Radamel Falcao only got two goals in his first few months, but Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie continued to bring in the goals. A title charge is still possible for next year.
United have a title charge in sights but will look for better performances. Image: DailyStar.co.uk
Alexis Sanchez delivered a plethora of goods for Arsenal and Giroud hit the ground running after injury. For Liverpool though, they flopped and found themselves just making it into the top half by the nearing of the new year. 
Distraught: Gerrard disappointed as a United masterclass runs riot. Image: TheXXIIPlayer.com
Champions League group stage

Twelve nights of fantastic European action took centre stage in the UEFA Champions League. Juventus and Atletico made the cut from Group A, outlasting a resilient Olympiacos who gathered many plaudits for their slaying of both the Italian and German champions. Real Madrid wiped through their group at ease, winning all six games, while Basel joined them. Liverpool slipped out late despite a superb free-kick by Gerrard in their must-win game at Anfield.
Real Madrid outclassed Liverpool with a 3-0 win at Anfield.
AS Monaco did things much more efficiently, scoring far less yet topping their group. Bayer Leverkusen closely followed in second. Borussia Dortmund took Group D by storm, un-parallel to their league form at the time. Arsenal saw their hopes in jeopardy after losing 2-0 to the yellows and allowing a stunning comeback from Anderlecht, but they did join the Germans in the Round of 16.
Sanogo shockingly scored in Arsenal's win over Anderlecht. Image: Clive Rose / Getty Images
FC Bayern Munich were always going to break through their group, but Manchester City—against all odds—came out with them. It was looking to be another gloomy year in the top flight for Pellegrini's side, but a major comeback, where they would beat Bayern at the Etihad after a thrilling Aguero hat-trick, and waltzing past Roma, would set up to live another day. Heavyweights of Group F, Barcelona and PSG, continuously battled to top the group. In a group phase which saw Lionel Messi become the highest-scoring player in the history of the tournament. A night featuring goals from Neymar, Messi and Suarez would lead to the Catalans topping PSG at the Nou Camp to come out on top of the group.
Neymar, Messi and Suarez were on target vs. PSG. Image: BallBall.com
Chelsea breezed through into their group including a demolition of Maribor and edging Schalke. Schalke did however pip Sporting Lisbon for qualification. Finally, in Group H, Porto and Shakhtar made their way through. Luiz Adriano was prolific for the Ukranians, while Porto were key to condemning the group-basement-boys Bate Borisov to the worst goal difference in the history of the Champions League group stage.

Messi's records

Lionel Messi made plenty more history in 2014 to make the best player in the World debate so much bigger. After winning the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup, Messi went onto break the record for most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League and La Liga. Is there a better player in the World than him?
Messi commended by teammates. Image: TheWorldGame
Drawing the curtain: Final review of the year

Mentioning the greatest player of the year is a task that could compromise this whole review, but Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer were by far at the top of the list. We saw an evolution of goalkeepers, with their performances becoming more pivotal and further looked upon—exemplified by Manuel Neuer making the cut for the Ballon d'Or. Tim Howard, Keylor Navas, Guillermo Ochoa and others made their name in a stunning World Cup which will go down as one of the best in history. Real Madrid capturing La Decima was a huge moment but also recognised the climbs of teams like Atletico.

There can be no other fitting conclusion than to look towards the future. Football has changed for the better and this year holds a lot for that change.

2014 was groundbreaking for our coverage too, with the World Cup team putting on a fantastic job and coverage for the Champions League and Premier League stepping up massively. In 2015, it will be even better.

A truly sublime year in the football world. It gave it us all. 12 months were some clubs shined, some players stepped up and one nation, Germany, restored its position as Champions of the World. Inspiration, emotion, even at times, heartbreak—what football is all about.



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2016 Day 9,2,Rio 2016 Olympics,1,Rio Roundup,16,Road to WrestleMania 2014,3,Robert Easter,1,Robert Guerrero,1,Robert Lewandowki,1,Robert Whittaker,1,Rocky Fielding,1,Roger Federer,3,Roger Gracie,1,Roland Garros,1,Roma,4,Roman Grosjean,1,Roman Reigns,9,Romania,3,Romelu Lukaku,1,Ronald Gavril,1,Ronald Gavrila,1,Ronaldo,4,Ronda Rousey,7,Rookie of the Year,2,Rooney,1,Rory,1,Roy Halladay,1,Royal Challangers Bangalore,7,Royal Challengers Bangalore,6,Royal Rumble,1,Rugby,14,Rugby Comment,3,Rugby League,6,Rugby League World Series 2015,2,Rugby World Cup,1,Rumours,1,Running,1,Russell Westbrook,1,Russia,8,Russian GP,1,Russian Grand Prix,1,RVP,1,Ryan Giggs,1,Sacramento Kings,1,Sadam Ali,1,Sam,5,Sam Eggington,1,Samoa Joe,2,Samuel Vargas,1,San Antonio Spurs,10,San Francisco 49ers,2,Sasha Banks,2,Saudi Arabia,2,Saul Alvarez,7,SB49Preview,1,Schalke,5,Schalke 04,1,Scotland,2,Scott,6,Scott Quigg,2,Scottish Football,1,SDLive,1,Sean,51,Seattle Seahawks,8,Sebastian Vettel,5,Selhurst Park,2,Semi 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Austin,1,Striker,1,Suarez,2,Sullivan Barrera,3,Summer Transfer 14,3,Summer Transfer Window 2015,12,SummerSlam,6,SummerSlam 2013,3,SummerSlam 2014,2,SummerSlam 2015,1,Sunderland,20,Sunrisers Hyderabad,9,Super Bowl,8,Super Bowl 48,2,Super Bowl 49,2,Super Bowl 50,2,Super League,5,Super League 2015,4,Super League 2016,3,Super Sunday,1,SuperBowl,1,SuperBowl 48,1,SupportingBrock,1,Survivor Series,5,SurvivorFeatured,4,Swansea,4,Swansea City,9,Swansea City FC,8,Sweden,5,Switzerland,11,T20,2,T20 World Cup 2014,9,T20 World Cup 2016,1,Tahiti,1,Tampa Bay,1,Tampa Bay Bucaneers,2,Team GB,2,Tennis,25,Tennis 2014,3,Tennis 2015,2,Tennis 2017,5,Tennis Comment,7,Tennis Reports,2,Terence Crawford,10,Texas,1,The Ashes,15,The Ashes 2013,4,The Ashes 2015,5,The Authority,1,The Hawthorns,1,The Oval,4,The Rock,2,The Sport Matrix,1,The Undertaker,7,The Weekend Review,1,TheSportMatrix,2,THFC,1,Tim Duncan,1,Title Race 2013/14,12,TJ Dillashaw,1,TNA,6,TNA 2013,1,TNA Impact Wrestling,3,Tom,3,Tom Brady,2,Tommy Coyle,1,Tommy Robredo,1,Tomoki Kameda,1,Tony Bellew,2,Tony Ferguson,1,Tony Parker,1,Top 5,2,Top 8,2,Top Rank,3,Top Rank Promotions,1,Toronto Blue Jays,1,Toronto Raptors,2,tottenham,7,Tottenham Hotspur,35,Tottenham Hotspurs,4,Trade,1,Transfer News,1,Transfers,6,Triple H,1,TSM,78,TSM 2016,1,TSM Awards,2,TSM Blog,1,TSM Matchday,12,TSM Matchday Featured,12,TSM Matchday Featured 2,5,TSM PredictZone,2,TSM Staff,2,TSM's Most Deadly,3,TSM1048,1,TSM1308,3,TSM14September,10,TSMBox,10,TSMBoxing,2,TSMFeatured,5,TSMFightNight,6,TSMLive,7,TSMLivePreview,3,TSMMatchday,13,TSMReturn,1,Tunisia,2,Turkey,6,Tushti,1,Twenty20,1,Twenty20 Cricket,5,Tyler Varga,1,Tyne-Wear Derby,2,Tyron Zeuge,1,Tyrone,8,Tyrone Chambers,1,Tyson Fury,8,UCL,5,UCL 2014/15,35,UCL 2015/16,27,UCL 2016/17,21,UCL Comment,18,UCL Featured,5,UCL Round-up,25,UCL Roundup,1,UCL15,9,UCLFeature,6,UCLFeatured,13,UCLRoundup,12,UEFA,10,UEFA 2020,1,UEFA Champions League,143,UEFA Champions League 2013/14,9,UEFA Champions League 2014/15,36,UEFA Champions League 2015/16,4,UEFA Champions League 2020/21,2,UEFA Champions Leauge 2020/21,1,UEFA EURO 2020,1,UEFA Europa League,4,UEFA Super Cup,2,UFC,242,UFC 162,3,UFC 164,1,UFC 165,1,UFC 166,2,UFC 168,4,UFC 169,1,UFC 171,2,UFC 172,1,UFC 173,1,UFC 178,3,UFC 180,1,UFC 181,2,UFC 182,3,UFC 183,3,UFC 184,3,UFC 185,1,UFC 187,2,UFC 189,4,UFC 190,1,UFC 191,1,UFC 193,3,UFC 194,8,UFC 195,1,UFC 196,5,UFC 197,3,UFC 199,1,UFC 200,3,UFC 2013,7,UFC 2014,19,UFC 2015,50,UFC 2016,32,UFC 2017,14,UFC 2018,7,UFC 2019,5,UFC 202,2,UFC 2020,15,UFC 2021,23,UFC 2022,9,UFC 2023,2,UFC 203,1,UFC 205,5,UFC 205 Fight Breakdowns,1,UFC 214,1,UFC 216,1,UFC 281,1,UFC 30 Fights,1,UFC Analysis,2,UFC Bantamweight Division,2,UFC Boston,1,UFC Brazil,2,UFC Comment,54,UFC Featherweight Division,4,UFC Featherweights,1,UFC Fight Night,30,UFC Fight Night 26,1,UFC Fight Night 27,1,UFC Fight Night 30,1,UFC Fight Pass,1,UFC Flyweights,3,UFC Heavyweight Division,6,UFC Japan,1,UFC LHW,2,UFC Light Heavyweight Division,8,UFC Lightweight Division,3,UFC Live,3,UFC London,1,UFC Long Island,1,UFC Media,1,UFC Middleweights,4,UFC News,2,UFC on FOX,8,UFC on FOX 8,1,UFC on FOX Sports,1,UFC PPV,20,UFC Preview,11,UFC Reports,13,UFC TUF,2,UFC UK,2,UFC Vegas,1,UFC Welterweight Division,5,UFC Women's Division,4,UFC194Live,1,UFCFeatured,5,Ukraine,4,Unfinished Business,1,Union,1,United Arab Emirates,2,Uriah Hall,1,Urijah Faber,1,uropean Football,1,Urugay,1,Uruguay,11,US Airways Center,1,US Open,1,US Open 2014,1,USA,4,Usain Bolt,2,UStartin,3,Utah Jazz,1,V8 Supercars,1,Valencia,1,Valencia Open,1,Valtteri Bottas,1,Vanes Martirosyan,2,Vardy,1,Vasyl Lomachenko,8,Velasquez,1,Vettel,4,Victor Ortiz,1,Video,1,Viktor Postol,2,Villa Park,1,Vince McMahon,1,Virat Kohli,1,Virgil Hunter,1,Wales,9,Waqar,139,Warner,1,Washington Redskins,1,Watford,4,Wayne Rooney,3,WC 2014 Group,24,WC 2014 Group C,2,WC 25-50,25,WC2014 Day 18,2,WC2014 Group,13,WC2014 Group D,2,WC2014 Match Reports,2,WC2014 Quarter Finals,4,WC2014 Round of 16,8,WC2014 Semi Final,2,WC20145175,24,WC201476,9,Weekend Review,2,Weekend Round-Up,1,Weekly Series,2,Weird News,1,Wells Fargo Arena,1,Werder Bremen,1,Werdum,1,Wes Morgan,1,West Brom,3,West Bromwich Albion,7,West Ham,7,West Ham United,16,West Ham United FC,4,West Indian Cricket,3,West Indies,13,West Indies Cricket,3,Whacky News,1,White Hart Lane,1,Whitewash,1,WI,1,Wigan Athletic,1,Wimbledon,8,Wimbledon 2015,1,Wimbledon Final,1,Winter Olympics,1,Wladimir Klitschko,8,Wolfsburg,1,World Cup,85,World Cup 2010,1,World Cup 2014,79,World Cup 2014 Featured,9,World Cup 2014 Match Zone,53,World Cup 2014 Review,1,World Cup Featured,6,World Cup Featured 2,3,World Cup Match Zone,6,World Cup News,3,World Cup Qualifiers,1,World Cup Review,2,World Football,1,World Matchplay Darts 2015,6,World Series,4,World Series 2015,2,World Series 2016,5,World Twenty20,1,World Wrestling Entertainment,3,Wresting,10,WrestleMania,27,WrestleMania 30,12,WrestleMania 31,7,WrestleMania 32,4,Wrestlemania 33,4,Wrestling,92,Wrestling Spoilers,2,WWE,185,WWE 2013,18,WWE 2014,36,WWE 2015,29,WWE 2016,41,WWE 2017,8,WWE 2018,2,WWE 2020,1,WWE 2021,1,WWE Battleground,5,WWE Battleground 2013,2,WWE Comment,68,WWE Elimination Chamber,1,WWE Elimination Chamber 2014,1,WWE Extreme Rules,3,WWE Extreme Rules 2014,2,WWE Extreme Rules 2015,2,WWE Extreme Rules 2016,2,WWE Fast Lane 2015,2,WWE Fast Lane 2016,1,WWE Hell in a Cell,4,WWE Money in the Bank,3,WWE Money in the Bank 2015,1,WWE Money in the Bank 2016,2,WWE News,1,WWE Night of Champions,1,WWE Opinion,2,WWE Payback,5,WWE Payback 2015,2,WWE Payback 2016,2,WWE PPV,17,WWE Predictions,3,WWE Preview,3,WWE Reports,1,WWE Royal Rumble,4,WWE Royal Rumble 2015,2,WWE Royal Rumble 2016,1,WWE Royal Rumble 2017,1,WWE Slammys,1,WWE SummerSlam,3,WWE SummerSlam 2015,4,WWE TLC,2,WWE TLC 2014,1,WWEFeatured,4,WWEHIAC2014,3,WWENOC2014,3,Year in Review,7,Year in Review 2014,7,Yushin Okami,1,Zimbabwe,8,Zimbabwe Cricket,5,
SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport: 2014 Year in Review: Football
2014 Year in Review: Football
2014 was one of the great years to remember in football. We review it in it's entirety.
SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport
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