World Football: 20 Events That Won't Happen in World Football in 2013
The beautiful game that is football provided us with plenty of fascinating results and events in 2012, and has thrown up plenty more as potential story lines in 2013.
From the transfer window to European championships, football around the globe is poised for another huge year with so many questions left unanswered and issues left unresolved.
And whilst we might like to put on our fortune-telling caps and make bold predictions about what we might see in 2013, the reality is that the majority of it won't happen. Most of our predictions, our burning questions, our potential story lines—they won't come to fruition in 2013.
Here's 20 events that won't happen in world football in 2013.
20. Manchester City Win the Premier League
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Manchester City broke through for what seemed like a debut Premier League title last season, beating rivals Manchester United on goal difference to claim their first league title in 44 years.
They entered the 2012/13 season as one of the favorites for the title once more. With a stronger squad, many thought that City would repeat again in 2013.
However, that simply will not be the case.
Roberto Manicni's men sit seven points adrift of Manchester United heading into the back half of the season, with the Red Devils playing champagne football that simply cannot be denied, no matter how strong a defense or attack you might have.
Where City toppled United both times last season, Sir Alex Ferguson's men have already won at the "fortress" that is the Etihad Stadium. Which, given City's poor away form over the past few years, could well be the difference in the title race once more this year.
United's lead is simply too large and City have simply dropped too many points in the opening half of the year to mount a genuine title challenge down the stretch.
19. Theo Walcott Leaves Arsenal
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Arsenal winger-turned-striker Theo Walcott has been a hotly contested transfer rumor for some time now, with the England international coming off-contract shortly.
The 22-year-old has been at loggerheads with the club about a new deal, with Walcott feeling that the club are low-balling him in their offer and that he should be being paid more in his new contract.
That has, in turn, let to much transfer speculation about his possible departure from the club, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United amongst a number of clubs reportedly interested in him.
Yet just in the past few days, Arsenal have seemingly gotten closer with the Englishman about a new deal, Given the level of confidence in Arsene Wenger's voice, you get the feeling that Walcott won't be going anywhere this winter transfer window.
The club are thought to be closing in on a new deal with the attacker. If latest reports are to be believed, we could well see an announcement of a new contract sooner than many had expected (per The Daily Mail).
18. Neymar Moves to Barcelona
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Speaking of transfer rumors, there has been arguably no bigger transfer over the past few seasons than that of Santos star Neymar to Spanish giants Barcelona.
The 20-year-old Brazilian sensation has been linked to the Nou Camp ever since an agreement was believed to have been reached between the clubs toward the end of the 2011/13 season (per Marca) in which Neymar would come to Barcelona eventually.
What the deal didn't specify was when it would take place—whether it be 2013 or 2014—and whether the deal would stand up as a legal document. Meaning, is there actually any binding agreement between Santos and Barca at all?
Some will expect a move from Santos for the talented dribbled over the summer transfer window. But if he is going to move, it will likely be in either of the winter transfer windows (2013 or 2014), given the respective schedules and playing time of the two leagues.
With Neymar not close to a deal with Barca just yet, we most likely won't see any transfer take place between the two parties until at least the end of 2013.
That is, if we even see one at all.
17. Juventus Squander Lead
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Changing tune for a moment, we head to Serie A, where we find that Italian giants Juventus have once again opened up a huge lead in the domestic competition.
Juve have been beaten just twice all season and hold an eight-point lead over Lazio Roma heading into the halfway mark of the season, a lead they will not squander in 2013.
The defending champions know what it takes to win the Italian league, having succeed last year and several times before that. And with their current lead and desire to keep succeeding, they will prove to be too strong and too disciplined down the stretch.
They have not been beaten by their two main challengers this year—Lazio Roma and Fiorentina—in the two times they have met and surely cannot drop away from their eight-point lead in 2013. Juventus will repeat as Italian champions this season.
16. Arsenal Win Another UCL Match
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Arsenal might have felt a little fortunate to reach the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League following some less than impressive performances in the group stages of the competition.
Yet progressed they did, where they then drew German giants Bayern Munich in the round of 16, a tie that they will surely not be able to progress through.
In fact, the Gunners will be lucky if they win another Champions League game this season given the depth of talent and quality that Bayern currently have.
The German giants have built a commanding lead in the Bundesliga this season and are playing very solid football as a unit, something that the Gunners have lacked at several times this year, least of which against Schalke at home in the Champions League.
The North London club's attack is either hit or miss at the moment, and given the cohesion and talent that Bayern have in attack and on the counter, you'd have to think that Arsene Wenger's men will be exiting the European tournament without too much of a protest in the next round.
15. Cristiano Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid
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If Neymar joining Barcelona is the biggest transfer rumor floating around at the moment, then Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid would have to come in a close second.
Reports have the Portuguese superstar leaving Los Blancos for Paris St. Germain in a world-record transfer move as well as a possible reunion back to Manchester Untied to link up with Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.
Let's just stop for a minute and breathe. There's no way that Ronaldo is leaving Real Madrid anytime in the near future, let alone in 2013, given all that's at stake.
Madrid will most likely lose the La Liga title race to Barcelona this year and will be desperate to exact revenge in the 2013-14 season, something that they cannot do without Ronaldo. He is the face of the their team and the man they look to for inspiration, and he's also a pretty darn good footballer.
The reigning champions would do everything in their power to keep Ronaldo were he contemplating leaving the club. Not the riches of PSG or the allure of Old Trafford would be able to persuade the Portugal international to leave Real Madrid.
14. QPR Get Relegated in the Premier League
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This might seem like some sort of incredible overreaction to Queens Park Rangers' incredible upset of Chelsea in the Premier League, but the London club will once again somehow survive relegation.
Yes, the team that has won just two of its opening 21 matches will not be going down come the end of the season, and Harry Redknapp will be applauded as a genius.
Since taking over the club, Redknapp has managed to score draws away to Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and Chelsea as well as home games to Aston Villa and Fulham. His side look more determined in attack and, whilst there are still some defensive issues to iron out, there's no doubt that QPR are a much stronger side under the former Tottenham boss than they were under Mark Hughes.
Which could very well lead to a mini-revival at QPR.
After all, the club are only two wins from being outside of the relegation zone at the moment, and that's in spite of all the terrible performances they've had to date.
Reading, Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic—all are traveling worse than QPR and could well end up taking the three bottom spots by the end of the season. If that happens, surely Redknapp will have pulled off one of the most incredible miracles seen in the recent history of the league.
Perhaps even greater than Wigan Athletic last year.
13. PSG Win Ligue 1, or the Champions League
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Given all the money that they've splashed out over the previous transfer windows, Paris St. Germain would surely have to be in contention for some title this year.
If not the Champions League, then surely they can win the poor, pathetic Ligue 1 this season, right? After all, if Montpellier can thrive last year, then surely a side boasting the likes of Lucas Moura, Thiago Silva and, of course, Zlatan Ibrahomvoic, can do so as well?
You'd assume so, but the Paris-based club are certainly no lock on a trophy this season, either in Europe or even in their own domestic competition.
Lyon are currently tied with PSG in Ligue 1 at the moment and, despite a large portion of the year remaining, have a genuine chance for the title this season. They are playing particularly well at home and are only goal-difference away from the cashed-up giants at the moment, something that will no doubt give them plenty of optimism for the year ahead.
Keep in mind also that PSG started the season winless through their first six games and have dropped easy points at home to lesser teams this season, proving that they might not have the consistency or the cohesion to succeed week in and week out.
Their focus is clearly on the Champions League, and with Lyon playing well, it might only take one or two bad weeks on the domestic front to surrender the title race. And when they get eliminated from the Champions League—which they will—they could well end up with nothing this year.
12. Bradford City Win the Capital One Cup
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One other team that won't be winning anything in 2013 is Bradford City, the Cinderella story of the Capital One Cup this year having reached the final four of the tournament.
The club recorded one of the upsets of the year when they beat Premier League giants Arsenal on penalties, despite the London club fielding a reasonably strong lineup.
That win could have given Bradford the belief that they could go all the way this year in the Cup, especially when they drew Aston Villa in the semifinals.
However, that hope will proven to be false, with the minnows having simply no chance of taking home silverware this year—not against the caliber of teams remaining.
Even if they do get past Aston Villa, who have been good in the knockout competition this year, there's no chance of them beating Swansea or Chelsea in the final—both of which have attacks that, at their best, can beat nearly every side in an English league this season.
It might seem obvious, but there's no chance of Bradford wining the Cup in 2013.
11. Radamel Falcao Moves to Chelsea
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Perhaps we should stop ranking these transfers, because another huge deal that has been threatening to take place for some time now is Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao to Chelsea.
And this, just like the others we've mentioned, has no chance of happening in 2013, especially now that the Blues have signed Demba Ba from Newcastle United.
Falcao was believed to be the successor to Fernando Torres, who was slumping under Roberto Di Matteo. However, now under Rafa Benitez, El Nino is firing once more and proving that he can be the main striker at the club on a long-term basis, thus negating the need for Falcao.
Moreover, the deal for Ba brings in another world-class striker, one who would seem trivial if Roman Abramovich was intent on signing the Colombian international.
Oh, and Falcao has already said he won't be coming this winter and will reassess his options at the end of the season, leaving only the summer transfer window as a possible time frame for a deal to be made.
By that time, Torres and Ba will have had half a year together and will likely have achieved great results, showing that the Blues do not need to splash an exuberant amount of money on Falcao after all.
10. Bayern Munich Lose the Bundesliga
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We've already touched on this point already when discussing the Champions League, but Bayern Munich certainly looked like the real deal in the half of the season we've seen so far and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of the season.
After finishing second in all three major competitions last year—the Bundesliga, the German Cup and the UEFA Champions League—Bayern are a much more focused and disciplined side and are reaping the rewards from their strong play to date.
The German giants have built a nine-point lead already in the Bundesliga and have suffered just one defeat all season and look all but set to win another league title.
Borussia Dortmund and Leverkusen are both chasing Bayern and are both quality sides on their day, but Jupp Heynckes' side simply has to big of a head-start this year.
Expect to see Bayern win the Bundesliga in 2013.
9. RVP Scores More Goals Than Luis Suarez
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Few fans in the English Premier League would doubt the importance of Robin van Persie to Manchester United this season. The Dutchman has become the heart and soul of the Red Devils' attack this year. His goal-scoring prowess is a huge factor behind their strong lead in the title race this season.
The 29-year-old has netted the most goals in the Premier League with 16 and has more than double the goals of every other player in the league bar six so far this year.
However, having said all of that, Van Persie will not finish as the league's Golden Boot winner for the 2012-13 season. Despite all the goals and attacking brilliance, he will not score more goals than Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
The Reds' striker is in career-best form, netting 15 goals this year and carrying Liverpool into contention for a top-four spot once again. He is a dynamic finisher and a real handful for defenses to stop.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is the fact that Liverpool's attack is funneled through Suarez, whereas Van Persie is merely the finisher. Essentially nothing happens in the Reds' attack without input from the Uruguayan, whereas United have several attacking options to go through other than RVP.
It's the same with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, where Messi should always score more goals because the attack always goes through him. So it will be with Suarez and Van Persie this year, who will most likely stay in a great fight for the Golden Boot Award all year long.
8. Porto Lose the Portuguese Primeira Liga
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The Portuguese Primeira Liga is truly a two-horse race this season with Benfica and Porto clearly the pick of the competition. Both sit undefeated and six points clear of third-placed Sporting Braga, and are in a strong position to continue on in 2013.
But there can only be one winner of the competition, and in 2013, it will be Porto.
Led by the brilliance of Joao Moutinho, the Portuguese club use next fortnight's clash against Benfica to establish control on top of the table in the league and will not be run down from there.
Porto have won all of their home matches this year, scoring 18 goals and conceding just one, giving them one of the most dominant home-ground advantages in world football, and something that they'll carry all the way to the title.
Their defense is sound and their technical skill brilliant; Porto simply will not lose the Primeira Liga in 2013.
7. Arsenal Finish in the EPL Top Four
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Arsenal are just not good enough this year.
They have a strong team with deadly finishers and, on their day, can transform into one of the most dynamic and effective teams in world football.
The only problem is that those days are few and far between. In the meantime, the Gunners aren't hitting their stripes as consistently and as strong as they would like. They haven't been good enough to show that they can be a top-four contender in the Premier League this year.
And so they will not finish in the top four.
Their attack lacks direction far too often and their midfield breaks down at the final pass, unable to finish off what looked so promising when the likes of Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla had the ball at their feet. Neither Olivier Giroud nor Theo Walcott is the complete answer up front.
The North London club must accept the reality that they will not be playing Champions League football next season.
They are not better than Manchester United or Manchester City. They are not better than Chelsea and, as much as a lopsided North London derby might suggest otherwise, they are not better than Tottenham Hotspur either. If all that is true, that leaves the Gunners outside the top four.
Simple as that.
6. Michu Wins EPL Player of the Year
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As far as value transfers go, few can go past Swansea City's brilliance in picking up Michu from Rayo Vallecano for around £2 million in the summer transfer window.
The Spanish midfielder has been a revelation at Liberty Stadium, lighting up the league with 13 goals and an assist to leave the Swans in a strong position for 2013.
However, as good and as important as Michu might be this year, he will not win the Premier League Player of the Year award. For that to happen, Swansea would most likely need to finish in the top five and earn a European berth next year, which we all know isn't going to happen.
As frustrating as it might seem, the Player of the Year will need to have actually "won" something in the 2012-13 season and no, a potential Capital One Cup trophy won't count.
Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez are the two obvious candidates that stick out to date, with United heading for the title and Liverpool charging back for a top-four spot. Both of those finishes will be considered "victories," whereas Swansea's strong but fruitless year will most likely not count for much.
Gareth Bale is also a contender for the award.
5. Shakhtar Donetsk Lose Another UPL Match
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Some football fans might not have heard of Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donestsk prior to their Champions League campaign this year, which saw them eliminate reigning champions Chelsea.
Yet be assured that Shakhtar have been around for some time now and have been very dominant in the past few seasons, particularly in Ukraine, where they boast one of the more incredible records over the past few years of domestic competition.
Look at the numbers via WhoScored.
Over the past nine domestic seasons, Shakhtar have won the competition eight times, dropping the title just once to Dynamo Kyiv a few years back.
In their past four years of competition (108 games in total), the Ukrainian champions have won all but seven games and have conceded just 61 goals, an average of just 0.56 goals per game. In that time frame, they have also scored 247 goals, an average of 2.3 goals per game.
The numbers are simply mind-boggling, and with just two losses from their past two seasons (including one already this year) it's fairly safe to suggest that Shakhtar won't lose another domestic match this year. If they do that, they'll make it four league titles in a row.
4. Barcelona Win the UEFA Champions League
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Barcelona are without doubt one of the best teams in world football, if not the best, and they stand as one of the genuine contenders for the Champions League trophy this year.
They somehow fell at the second-to-last hurdle to Chelsea last year and will be keen to exact revenge, moving through to the round of 16 with relative ease. The Catalan club have been incredible in La Liga this year with their attack firing on all cylinders, making them one of the most difficult teams to contain or restrict in Europe.
However, having said all of that, the Nou Camp will not be celebrating another Champions League title this year, for it won't be falling the way of Barcelona.
The club have shown that they are vulnerable in the European competition this year—Celtic, anyone?—and teams are slowly figuring out how to stifle the dominance of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta and all that the Barcelona attack brings to the table.
It might not be pretty, but teams across Europe are pushing Barca in ways they weren't pushed last season, and it could very well be their undoing. After all, if they can't travel to Scotland and beat Celtic, how do they expect to travel to the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Juventus or even Shakhtar Donetsk?
3. Atletico Madrid Finish Above Real Madrid
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Currently, Atletico Madrid hold superiority in La Liga over their neighborhood rivals Real Madrid, but don't expect that superiority to last throughout 2013.
Atletico sit seven points clear of Jose Mourinho's side—leaving many dreaming of a year where they could finish above last year's champions.
Los Blancos are simply too strong and prolific in attack to struggle throughout the back half of the year like they have struggled through the first. They will start to string together a run of consistent, good performances sooner rather than later.
They may very well also be out of the Champions League sooner than expected after drawing Manchester United in the round of 16, meaning that they would be able to focus more of their attention on La Liga and not on other European commitments.
Seven points is not a big gap with half a season to play, especially not when you have Real Madrid's talent and having already beaten Atletico once this season.
Atletico will still be in for a strong year in 2013, but they haven't broken into the big two of the league just yet and won't do so in 2013.
2. Manchester United Lose the EPL Title Race
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Manchester United will win the English Premier League this year.
They are seven points clear and playing champagne football, delighting their fans with a plethora of goals and attacking brilliance from Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
They've already suffered their injury crisis, they've already had lackluster defending, they've already played terribly. Yet they're still seven points clear! Imagine what this team could do when they start playing well at both ends of the pitch, week in and week out.
Having beaten all four of their main rivals (City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal), Sir Alex Ferguson's men have proved that they are the real deal and that there is no side in England that is capable of beating them on their day.
The Red Devils have gone into the Etihad Stadium, into Anfield and into Stamford Bridge, and they've walked away winners on all three occasions. They are head and shoulders above the rest and will win their 20th league title in 2013.
1. Lionel Messi Improves on 2012
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One final thing that won't happen in world football in 2013 regards Lionel Messi and his individual brilliance that we see week in and week out.
He is the greatest player on the planet at the moment and yet, as good as he is, not even he will be able to top the season that he had (statistically speaking) last year.
The Barcelona and Argentina legend netted 91 goals in all competition in 2012, a remarkable effort that is worthy of some recognition, even if some no-name Zambian player who nobody heard about for 30 years supposedly scored more.
Messi was behind everything for Barcelona and his country. In La Liga, in the Champions League, in Copa Del Rey, in World Cup qualification matches, he was simply behind everything like no other player has been before.
He will no doubt rise to even greater heights in 2013, most likely picking up another La Liga medal and perhaps even an outside chance at the treble. But individually speaking, not even he will be able to top the wonder that we witnessed in 2012.
Maybe he'll just finish with the 90 goals in 2013.
You know, being the lazy player that he is.
What can (or can't) you see happening in world football in 2013?
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