New Year's Resolutions for World Football's Biggest Clubs
As another year approaches, regular people around the world will be making resolutions for 2013. Football clubs probably won't do the same, but maybe they should.
With that in mind, we here at Set Piece decided to imagine what some of the world's biggest clubs would resolve to do in 2013—if, in fact, clubs made New Year's resolutions.
What should your club resolve to do in 2013? Keep reading to find out.
Barcelona: Don't Change a Thing
By definition, New Year's resolutions generally involve change. After all, one must resolve to do something—not stay the same.
Even so, that's exactly what Barca's resolution should be for 2013. The latter half of 2012 brought loads of success, both for the club and prolific scorer Lionel Messi. More of the same would bring silverware in the first half of 2013.
Messi set a world record for goals in a calendar year with 91. Barcelona built a big lead atop La Liga and qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
New manager Tito Vilanova took over seamlessly, and apart from his illness, all is looking peachy in Catalonia as 2013 approaches. Barca will be looking for more of the same—while helping Vilanova recover.
Real Madrid: Focus
That is, focus on one thing—and do that one thing well.
More than half of the La Liga season remains to be played, but Real Madrid trail Barcelona by a whopping 16 points (and crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid by seven).
Meanwhile, in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid trail Celta Vigo 2-1 after a first-leg defeat. The return leg is scheduled for Jan. 9, and even though Real will have home-field advantage, Jose Mourinho's side face a real threat of elimination.
If that happens, Real must shift all their focus to the Champions League and their Round of 16 tie against Manchester United. It's the most mouthwatering matchup of the round, and if Real win, they could be one of the favorites.
Manchester City: Weight Loss
Manchester City, the defending English champions, trail leaders Manchester United by seven points heading into the weekend. Already out of Europe, City and manager Roberto Mancini are feeling intense pressure to perform.
If he wants to keep his job, Mancini might consider trimming some of the fat from his under-performing side. Mario Balotelli, just to name one player, seems like a clear choice to be shipped out after another year of madcap (but entertaining) moments.
Bringing in new players this winter might help, but first Mancini must dispense with those who are doing little to help the team. If he doesn't, he might be the one to go.
Manchester United: Learn to Play Defense
Halfway through the English Premier League season, we've learned beyond any doubt that Manchester United can outscore any domestic opponent on their day.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men have scored a league-best 48 goals. The problem is, they've also allowed 28, which is the eighth-worst number in the league. To put that in perspective, Stoke City have allowed 14 goals—exactly half as many as United.
In 2004-05, Chelsea won the title while conceding only 15 times all season (United conceded 26 times that season, by the way). Obviously, United can't hope to match that feat, but they can try to sort out what has been, at times, a glaring weakness.
Bayern Munich: Stay the Course
Bayern Munich came within moments of winning the UEFA Champions League title last May before losing out memorably to Chelsea's team of destiny.
This season, the Bavarians responded with a record-setting start to the Bundesliga season (via Bundesliga.com). In Europe, Die Roten topped their group and will play Arsenal in the Round of 16.
That should be a manageable assignment for one of Europe's most efficient teams. However, after last May, we'll wait until the last moment to make any pronouncements about Bayern.
Borussia Dortmund: Ditto
Borussia Dortmund, the two-time defending Bundesliga champions, topped Group D—the Champions League's so-called "Group of Death"—this fall. Along the way, Jurgen Klopp's team outplayed Spanish champions Real Madrid, English champions Manchester City and Dutch champions Ajax.
That was impressive, but Dortmund's job is far from finished. Shakhtar Donetsk will present a stiff challenge in the Round of 16, and if Dortmund progress to the quarterfinals, the task will only become more difficult.
If anything, though, Dortmund have shown this season that they are capable of greatness. With a roster full of names like Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, they're also capable of creating excitement.
Now we see if they have staying power.
Juventus: Stay Scandal-Free (and Make Sure Pirlo Keeps the Beard)
Juventus swept the 2011-12 Serie A season with an undefeated campaign. Manager Antonio Conte was then swept up in a match-fixing scandal from his time at Siena.
The scandal kept Conte off the sideline until December (via Sky Sports). Juventus played well without him and once again lead Serie A by a healthy margin.
With that said, though, another scandal would be quite damaging.
For that matter, so would allowing Andrea Pirlo to shave. Such a glorious beard should have its own museum exhibit.
Chelsea: Keep a Manager for More Than a Few Months
Andre Villas-Boas lasted less than a year. So did Roberto Di Matteo. The latter even won the Champions League and FA Cup.
How long, then, will Rafa Benitez remain Chelsea's manager?
It probably wouldn't hurt Chelsea to keep a manager for more than a few months, especially if it's the guy Roman Abramovich really wants.
It also wouldn't hurt to stop alienating the fans.