Another year has come to pass in world football, and in its small hours arrives the undeniable urge for reflection.
2012 was the year Spain made history at the Euros, Chelsea achieved the improbable in the Champions League, Manchester City won the Premier League at its death, the U.S. women and Mexican men were golden and Lionel Messi's otherworldly genius marched on the record books.
We saw Juventus go unbeaten for an entire Serie A season in Italy, Borussia Dortmund take a brilliant young team to a second successive German title and Cristiano Ronaldo inspire Real Madrid to break Barcelona's hold in La Liga.
Montpellier held off the challenge of PSG to win the French title, David Beckham said goodbye to the L.A. Galaxy with a second MLS Cup, the stars of Neymar and Stephan El Shaarawy rose and Radamel Falcao's prolific goal-scoring made him the hottest transfer target in Europe.
Not everything was to be celebrated. Racism blighted the game too often, diving was never far from the agenda, match-fixing scandals smeared Italy again and the behaviour of football fans was found wanting on several occasions.
But the good far outweighed the bad. Football's popularity continues to rise—not least where Bleacher Report makes its home, in the U.S.—and the reason for that can be found in its unfailing capacity to enthral, entertain and surprise us.
You just can't write some of the stuff we saw in 2012—Chelsea's triumph in Munich, Sergio Aguero's Premier League winner, Mario Balotelli's double for Italy against Germany, the U.S. women's comeback against Canada at the Olympics and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal against England, to name but a few.
The B/R World Football Awards appeared for the first time in 2011. They're back a year later and with our audience having doubled.
2012 was a great year for football. Here's hoping 2013 will be even better.