|Italy vs Spain||England vs Iceland||Poland vs Portugal||Wales vs Belgium|
|R of 16 - Jun 27 12pm||R of 16 - Jun 27 3pm||Quarterfinal 1 - Jun 30 3pm||Quarterfinal 2 - Jul 1 3pm|
|USA 0-4 Argentina
Semifinal 1 - Jun 21 9pm
|Colombia 0-2 Chile
Semifinal 2 - Jun 22 8pm
|USA 0-1 Colombia
3rd place match - Jun 25 8pm
|Argentina 0-0P Chile
Final - Jun 26 8pm
In the last part of our ‘2012 in review’ series, we touch on five major things that happened during the last two months of the previous year. Coincidentally, just as it commenced, our ‘2012 in review’ series end with one man – Lionel Messi.
November 3, 2012 – Juventus marvelled crowds as they took the Serie A title away from Milan. Remarkably, they won the Scudetto without losing a single game.
23 wins and 15 draws saw the title in the hands of Alessandro Del Piero. Juventus started the new season well but were surprisingly beaten by a resurgent Inter Milan side. In that match, the Old Lady started on the front foot as Arturo Vidal grabbed the first goal.
Diego Milito, the man for big occasions then struck twice while Rodrigo Palacio added one in the dying minutes to put an end to one of the longest unbeaten runs in the history of football. The run was a brilliant one.
The current Juventus side will go into the history books as one of the greatest ever Serie A teams. Unfortunately, everything comes to an end and Inter Milan somehow fittingly brought Juve’s 49-match unbeaten run to a close.
November 21, 2012 – The man who somehow captured the Holy Grail and managed to turn Chelsea into an attacking side was sacked by the Russian billionaire a few hours after the Blues lost a crucial Champions League group game against Juventus.
Di Matteo was loved by the fans and most of the players too. His sacking was unfortunate but certainly inevitable considering the team’s future in this season’s UCL competition.
Owner Roman Abramovich managed to remove the one man who will always be associated with Chelsea and whose name will go down as one of the club’s most historic managers without so much as a blink.
Real Madrid had sacked Jupp Heynckes after he won the UEFA Champions League in 1998. Abramovich showed a bit more patience but eventually went down the same road.
December 1, 2012 – David Beckham has been an icon on and off the football pitch for much of his career. He has helped the status of soccer massively in his years at the MLS. Beckham’s move to LA Galaxy had come as a large surprise for all when he had departed Real Madrid.
However, he managed to pick up two MLS Cups in his time at the club. He put in some great displays along the way for the Americans.
Beckham will definitely be missed. His personality and fame have helped a rather ignored sport in the U.S attract attention from fans. Plenty of fans were attracted to Major League Soccer because of him.
Thus, his departure from the league marked a sad day in the history of soccer in North America. He will definitely be missed by the fans there.
December 20, 2012 – Yaya Toure is easily one of the best players that Ivory Coast has ever produced. He is a genuine box to box midfielder who can provide moments of inspiration. He was a huge part of the Barcelona side which took the world by storm in the 2008-09 season.
The current Manchester City star, who once refused a bottle of champagne on religious grounds, was named the CAF African Footballer of the Year for the second consecutive time in Accra beating nominees Alexandre Song and Didier Drogba.
Toure’s firepower often seems underestimated. During moments when the Citizens’ attack struggles, the player comes forward with a kind of balance and poise unseen at most times from him.
He is a gem even at 29 years of age for Roberto Mancini. He was a huge part of the Man City side which won the Premier League in spectacular fashion last season. Toure still has plenty to offer to the game.
December 22, 2012 – This is the date when Lionel Messi signed off the calendar year with goal number 91 against Real Valladolid but before that, he broke barriers with a brace against Real Betis on December 9.
The great Gerd Müller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year was knocked down by the sublime Barcelona man. Despite the fact that Messi needed plenty of penalties to aid him unlike ‘Der Bomber’ Müller, he did have a phenomenal year. Müller’s record was deservedly broken by somebody only too worthy of the great man himself.
Messi, despite not winning any of the big honors on offer this year, still had a year to remember. It is true that one would still be baffled by how and why none of his 91 goals in 2012 came during Barcelona’s most crucial week in April: during the two-legged semi-final tie against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League semis and El Clasico at the Camp Nou.
Interestingly, Lionel Messi missed from 12 yards on home soil against the Blues as his Chelsea goal drought stretched to seven matches since the beginning of his career. In El Clasico in April, La Pulga left the pitch dejected as his closest rival – Cristiano Ronaldo – netted the winning goal for Real Madrid which virtually ended Barcelona’s La Liga title hunt.
Still, and overall, Lionel Messi has managed to seduce the public with his quiet character. Besides, he has started scoring for his country too, Argentina. There is no other way really to end the current year in football except congratulating Lionel Messi on yet another individually brilliant year.
On this note, we cruise into 2013 with a roundup of Lionel Messi’s 91 in 2012 goals: