Wins, Losses, and What Ifs: The 22/23 Football Season in Perspective


From Manchester City winning the Premier League title while spending only 28 days at the top of the table to Napoli beating both Milan teams to win the Scudetto, and a Messi-less Barcelona finishing top of the La Liga table with a 10-point gap ahead of the first runner up, we definitely witnessed a season to remember. Istanbul ‘23 was also another one for the history books as we had an English-Italian UCL final, 16 years from the last one, Athens ‘07, between AC Milan and Liverpool. We’ve had continental clashes, fresh rivalries, season-long scintillating performances, delightful derbies, and the remarkable Qatar ‘22 World Cup tournament and it’s only right that we have a round up from UIMSA’s Press sport desk.

Starting with Spain, we had a season that saw Xavi Hernandez clinch his first Spanish league title in his first full season as the manager of the major Catalan side with 4 games to go after putting 4 goals past Espanyol in the Catalan derby while conceding 2. The league title contenders didn’t have a new threat all along as it’s been between FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid for the most part of this decade and the last. Barca and Madrid met five times in all competitions this season and the Culés became certain of the league’s win when Barca won 3 out of the 5 times, losing the first league meeting and the second leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-final. One of the wins was a supercup final match in January in Riyadh which was Xavi’s first trophy. After the last game week, Real Valladolid, Espanyol, and Elche finished bottom three in that order, and were relegated to La Liga Segunda division (second division).

It was quite eventful in England as the first shocker of the season was seeing Arteta and Arsenal compete so hard for the title. It was more surprising to see Liverpool struggle to get a spot to play in the UCL next season and Chelsea flirt with relegation while finishing among the bottom 10 clubs. Newcastle changed owners, changed position on the table, and more importantly secured a spot to play in the UCL for the first time since the 02/03 season. Pep parted ways with Sterling, Jesus, and Zinchenko, selling them to rival clubs in the ‘BIG 6’ and still gave Arsenal a tough time in the title race after getting Haaland, Akanji, and a few others. Manchester United had a stellar season relative to the other big clubs aside Arsenal and Manchester City. Chelsea fans had a tough time, hoping to have a next season that makes up for all the shitshows they experienced this season. Tottenham did not have so much buzz around them as they almost always disappointed on their way to a trophyless season. Leicester, Leeds United, and Southampton got relegated to the Championship while Burnley and Sheffield United got promoted.

Napoli clinched the Italian Scudetto, 33 years on from when Diego Maradona won it for them. The club from Naples won the title in a funny way as they needed a draw in their 33rd game against Udinese after failing to get a win in the previous game against Salernitana. An Osimhen equalizer in the 52nd minute did the trick for Napoli and they had their celebrations that night. They ended the season with 90 points, 16 points ahead of the 1st runner up, Lazio, and 18 ahead of the third on the table, Inter Milan. This was Napoli’s only trophy this season as they crashed out of Coppa Italia and UCL after losing to Cremonese and AC Milan respectively. Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia for Napoli, Lautaro for Inter Milan, Rafeal Leao for AC, have been stellar this season in the Serie A. Hellas Verona, Cremonese, and Sampdoria were relegated with 31 points, 27 points, and 19 points respectively.

In Germany, the title race between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund went on till the last day. Dortmund just needed a win to secure the title. Unfortunately, they couldn’t as they drew against Mainz while Bayern put two goals past Koln’s goalie while conceding one to secure 3 points. The latter won the league on goal difference for the 11th time in 11 years after tying Dortmund on points. Leipzig finished third and Union Berlin, fourth, as they secured a spot in next season’s UCL tournament.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain finished on top of the league as they bade Messi, farewell after winning the title twice in the last 2 years with the Argentine. They finished with 85 points, one point ahead of Lens, who themselves had an impressive campaign, and 12 points above third-placed Marseille. PSG, for their standards, weren’t as impressive as expected, especially with the attacking trio featuring 2 World Cup winners and arguably the most talented Brazilian to ever grace football. They crashed out of the UCL against Bayern Munich at the RO16 stage and lost to Marseille at the same stage in the Coupe de France. Fans are waiting for the club’s next move after Messi parted ways with the French club. While PSG, Lens, and Marseille (with a UCL qualification) are expected to play in the UCL next season, Auxerre, AC Ajaccio, Troyes, and Angers were relegated.

What’s a European wrap-up without the tales of the UEFA Champions League Tournament?

The RO16 stage had some unforgettable scorelines. Real Madrid beat Liverpool with 5 goals to 2 in a game that featured funny goalkeeping errors from Courtois and Allison. City also thrashed Leipzig 7 goals to nil. Bayern, Chelsea, Napoli, and Benfica got knocked out in the quarters and we had a Milan derby in the semis, with Real Madrid facing City once again. Inter bossed both legs of the derby and secured a spot in the finals while City held a draw at Santiago Bernabeu and trashed the Los Blancos 4 goals to nil at Etihad to join Inter in the finals. Simone Inzaghi faced Pep Guardiola on June 10 under the lights in Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadi, Istanbul. It was a fierce battle between the Cityzens and Nerazzurri. Pep’s side had more of the ball as usual but found it hard to convert the chances. However, a 68-minute strike from Rodri sealed the last cup of the treble for Manchester City, the first in the club’s history.

It’s been a wonderful season across all competitions in Europe and we can only expect to see more and more of that in subsequent seasons. We are going into a summer break where clubs will be going back to the drawing board to make decisions, trigger release clauses, and trade prospects again in preparation for next season. Will you be there? Because I WILL!

Peter Adeyemo.

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