2016:The year of the underdog


As 2016 ends,the football world was in one of the most unusual years where underdogs have triumphed and made history,with proving that money isn’t always necessary for success.Starting with the year of the underdog is the story of 2016 which is the triumph of Leicester City which just seven seasons ago played in League One and prior to the 2015-16 season survived a relegation scare after being promoted from the Championship League in the 2013-14 season.Over the years the Midlands club built a core of players which consisted of Vardy,Marhez,Kante,Schmeichel,Fuchs,Okazaki,Morgan and others which Ranieri has transformed them into a title winning sensation and wrote of the most beautiful stories of football which will be forever in history books.However in the new season the title defence didn’t go as planned,but the Foxes are having a strong Champions League campaign which saw them collecting 13 out of possible 18 points in the group stage which is enough for a 1st place in a group which saw them playing clubs like Porto,Copenhagen and Club Brugge.With that Ranieri’s men are going to the round of 16 of the Champions League where they are going to face five time UEFA Europe LEague winner Sevilla and it will not be an easy task for the Foxes next year,also they need to step up their Premier League campaign where they are only 16th.Leicester’s success inspired other clubs across the world.In Russia,Rostov finished 2nd in the Russian Premier League besides having huge financial problems but that didn’t stopped them competing in the Champions League where they finished 3rd in the group stage besides playing the European giants like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and that will extend their play in Europe by playing in the UEFA Europe League in the spring.In Italy Sassuolo the club from one of Italy’s football provinces which is Emilia-Romagna finished 6th in the Serie and made its European debut by participating in the UEFA Europe League where unfortunately they finished last but collected 5 points for their first ever European campaign,also Crotone was promoted for the first time ever in its history to the Serie A.The Sharks from Calabria had an incredible season in the Serie B where the finished 2nd which meant an automatic promotion to the Serie A and it marked for the first time in more than 30 years that a club from Calabria would play in the Serie A.But the most biggest stories came in the European Championships in France where two underdog nations made history in the tournament.It took 13 qualification attempts for the Red Dragons of Wales to qualify for a international football tournament but they did it and in France the Red Dragons wrote history when they made it to the semifinals of the European Championships.After the group stage where they finished 1st with a point ahead of their more famous and arrogant western neighbours which were later embarrased by another underdog,the Red Dragons in the second round faced Northern Ireland and by luck made it into the quarterfinals where everyone predicted that it is the end for them where Belgium waited for them,instead the night in Lille turned to a nightmare for the heavily favored  Red Devils and a triumph for the Red Dragons where Hal Robson-Kanu scored one of the goals of year and of the tournament itself.Eventually the Red Dragons were defeated in the semifinal by Portugal which later won the Euros in France,but for Wales this is one for history and it marked their return to international competition for the first time in six long decades.The other underdog story of the Euros is Iceland.The Vikings have made their debut in France and shocked the football world when they passed through the group stage and later made a bigger shock when they defeated England and embarassing the English by sending them home early but the adventure for the Icelandic Vikings ended in the quarterfinals when they were defeated the hosts of the tournament.Nevertheless the Vikings have left a great impression and gained the sympathy of the whole world as the ultimate underdog and for their never say die approach.In South America 2016 was marked by both triumph and tragedy-Independiente del Valle and Chapecoense.The club from Ecuador became the Leicester of South America where they made the final of the Copa Libertadores besides playing a minor role in both Ecuadorian and South American football.On the road to the final the Negriazules beat the Argentinian giants of Boca Juniors and River Plate,only to be defeated in the final by the Colombians of Atletico Nacional.Sadly another fairytale story of South American football ended in tragedy and marked a sad end of the year of the underdog.On the way to their match with Atletico Nacional in the  final of the Copa Sudamericana,the plane where were the players of Chapecoense crashed 71 of the 77 passengers were killed which included most of the team,the complete coaching staff and a large number of journalists which were following the team of the final to Colombia.In the Major League Soccer,the Seattle Sounders which for years have been one of the top clubs won their first ever MLS Cup after years of being beaten in the earlier rounds of the MLS playoffs,while in the French Ligue 1,Nice which is on the way to be the next Leicester City is engaged in a title race where they lead by 2 points ahead of Monaco with PSG which won the title last season in a dominant fashion is 3rd and trails Nice by five points.2016 was a great year for football especially for the underdogs where they pulled stunning results and wrote one of the most beautiful stories in world football in which are written in history books,hopefully it will continue in 2017.


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