On the December 27 and January 3 podcasts Eoin and I offer up out biggest twenty soccer stories of 2011. Over the last few days the blog brought you another eighty stories that just failed to make into the top twenty.
21. Eric Abidal’s return after a spring cancer fight to help Barcelona win the UEFA Champions League is without a doubt the feel good story of 2011.
22. Luis Suarez suspension for eight games after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United set off a furor of debate much of it bringing little credit to the protagonists. Scratch the surface and the average football fan has the moral compass of the Sons of Anarchy when it comes to “their” team.
23. The Spanish Super Cup brought another el clasico or to be more accurate, two. Barcelona won 5-4 on aggregate (2-2 and 3-2) but the “festivities” really got going when Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho poked Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye during a melee at the end of the second leg. Mourinho was subsequently handed a two-match ban and were fined €600. Vilanova was banned for a game and fined the same amount for attacking Mourinho’s hand with his eye.
24. Carlo Ancelotti returns to the game as manager of PSG replacing the unfortunate Antoine Kombouaré a long-time club servant.
25. Thierry Henry returned to Emirates Stadium to see a statute of his likeness unveiled. He even hangs around long enough to sign a short term loan deal with Arsenal.
26. In Rio de Janeiro the World Cup 2014 qualifying draw takes place with much fanfare and fannying around.
27. Juventus open their new stadium in Turin.
28. In November LA Galaxy wins MLS Cup for third time this time beating Houston Dynamo who were also going for a hat trick of wins.
29. The post-season in MLS brings the departure of long-serving New England Revolution Coach Steve Nicol and Colorado Rapids Gary Smith.
30. Real Salt Lake’s run to final of the CONCACAF Champions League captures US fans imagination during the spring but success eluded them. After a draw in Monterrey Real Salt Lake lose to a Humberto Suazo goal just on the stroke of half time.
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