Winners & Losers of 2020
2020 was a wild year and has finally come to an end. For some teams, New Year´s Eve couldn´t come soon enough, while others might be looking back on this year as a success. In this opinion-based article, I´m going to crown my personal winners and losers of 2020 from the Top 5 European leagues - in no particular order.
The German side really had a year to forget. After a promising start to the 2019/20 season, they completely fell apart in 2020 and even flirted with relegation towards the end of the season. The new season started no better. "Die Königsblauen" - "the Royal Blues" - got thrashed 8-0 by Bayern Munich. They only won a single game this year, went through four different managers and were winless for 11 months. If Schalke 04 are not losers of 2020, I don´t know who is.
AS St. Etienne
One could argue that St. Etienne actually got lucky this year. After a disappointing Europa League campaign, where they got knocked out in the Group Stages, Claude Puel´s teams had to focus on the league where they found themselves in a relegation battle and only 3 points away from the drop zone. Fortunately, the season was abandoned due to the Corona Virus and St. Etienne stayed in Ligue 1. However, after football returned, they lost the Coupe de France Final to PSG and had a horrible start to the season and once again, St.Etienne are battling against relegation, failing to meet the fan´s expectations. They only picked up 5 wins all year, not a lot for the record champions of Ligue 1.
This one might be a little controversial. After all, Juve won the Scudetto - for the 9th time in a row, so where´s the problem? Well, the Old Lady had an international campaign that can only be described as a disaster. Despite the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus failed to even reach the Quarter Finals of the trophy they want the most - the Champions League, getting knocked out by Olympique Lyon, hardly a European powerhouse. The "Bianconeri" also failed to win the Coppa Italia, losing to Napoli on penalties in the final. Maurizio Sarri was replaced by club legend Andrea Pirlo as a manager, but Juve continue to struggle and look like a shadow of their former selves. The facts are that they only collected the 4th most points in Serie A in 2020, ranking behind the Milan teams and Atalanta Bergamo.
From one Italian team to another, it looks like AC Milan are finally back. A club that played below their expectations for years, the "Rossoneri" finally found their rhythm. The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked desperate at first, but the Swede didn´t fail to bring back belief to the red side of Milan. The team are Italy´s best team in 2020, winning 23 games, collecting 79 points on the way, while only losing twice this year. Milan are the last team to beat Juventus to a Scudetto and if they can keep this incredible pace for the rest of the season, they might be the first team to beat them again after a decade of dominance in Serie A.
At first glance, Liverpool didn´t have an outstanding year. They got knocked out of the Champions League, the FA Cup and lost the Community Shield to Arsenal, trophies that I´m sure they wouldn´t mind winning. But what makes the Reds one of my winners of 2020 is that they finally won the Premier League title. Liverpool was flying in the league in the 2019/20 season, grinding out results and trying their best to bring home the Premier League trophy after 30 long years. At the start of 2020, the Reds were in pole position to win it and just when Jürgen Klopp´s team thought they had finally done it, the league was put on hold due to COVID 19. Nobody knew if the season was ever going to continue after all the french league was abandoned pretty quickly. Liverpool fans must have thought that their team was cursed. But football came back and the Reds won their first league title in three decades and that is a win in my book. This year really was their year.
I mean, do I even have to explain why? Bayern had a flawless 2020. They won the treble - Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League - playing an incredible brand of football. They only lost one game this year and nearly scored 100 goals. They have the best points per game ratio in all the Top 5 leagues and superstar Robert Lewandowski was named men´s player of the year. Manager Hans-Dieter Flick has turned Bayern into the best team in Europe maybe even the world this year and they deserve nothing but praise.