World Football's Most Shocking Storylines of 2013
The 2013 calendar year might only be a couple of months old, but already it has graced world football with some of the most dramatic developments and stories.
From Mario Balotelli's infamous run-in with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini in training to some of the stunning upsets and results, football right around the world has been subject to several incredibly shocking storylines in 2013.
Read on to see the top 10 football storylines of the year so far.
10. David Beckham Signs for PSG
Having starred in various leagues around the world and establishing himself as one of the greatest midfielders in history, David Beckham stunned everyone with his move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The move to the big-spending French club clearly wasn't for the money, with Beckham donating his entire playing salary to a local children's charity for the time he's at PSG.
Few expected the move to actually happen; even fewer saw it happening in the winter transfer window.
9. Pep Guardiola to Bayern Munich
Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola stunned the world when he announced his impending arrival at Bayern Munich as the new manager—taking over from Jupp Heynckes at the end of the year.
Guardiola's joining with the German heavyweights has the potential to make them into one of the world's best teams for several more years to come. Given how strong they've been in 2013 without him, that's a very scary thought for fans to consider.
8. Eden Hazard and Swansea's Ball-Boy
With Chelsea trailing Swansea City in the Capital One Cup and desperately running out of time, Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard tried to get the ball from out of play and back to the Swans' goalkeeper.
And then all hell broke loose.
Now infamous ball-boy Charlie Morgan refused to hand over the ball to Hazard and instead protected it with his body by lying all over it. Hazard then kicked out in frustration, earning himself a red card in the process and opening up huge discussions about his potential punishment.
Opinion was seemingly split down the middle, with both Morgan and Hazard deemed to be in the wrong. Regardless, Chelsea had crashed out of another competition, and this time the focus was solely on one of their players and his incredible actions in their embarrassing defeat.
7. Lionel Messi Wins a Fourth Ballon d'Or
It was kind of expected, given his incredible exploits in 2012, but Lionel Messi winning a fourth straight Ballon d'Or still came as a shock at the start of 2013.
We all saw it coming after he grabbed 91 goals in the year, but for the Argentinian international to possess such dominance over the world for such a long period of time is truly spectacular.
The fact he's seemingly improving with every passing week is just ridiculous. At just 25 years old, he could feasibly win the next 10 Ballon d'Or's in a row.
For Messi, that's not much of an exaggeration.
6. Chelsea Lose at Home to QPR
In the most shocking upset in the English Premier League in 2013 so far, Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers stunned Chelsea with a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were gunning for their fifth straight win heading into this one whilst QPR remained firmly at the bottom of the table. Yet, after one strike from Shaun Wright-Phillips, all of that had seemingly changed and Rangers left to celebrate an incredible win over their London rivals.
To put it into context, the win was the first time that QPR had beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in over 30 years of Premier League football. Their last win at the Bridge came in March 1979—ironically, when both Chelsea and Rangers were eliminated from First Division at the end of the year.
5. "That" Red Card
It was supposed to be remembered as one of the greatest games ever between two giants of world football. However, Manchester United's Champions League match against Real Madrid will be remembered for nothing more than Nani's controversial red card that ultimately cost United the win.
Nani made contact with Alvaro Arbeloa's chest in trying to go for an aerial ball—without seeing the Madrid player—and received a straight red card because of it.
Whether it was or wasn't is still up for debate, but what cannot be debated is the impact that the decision had on the outcome of this game and the Champions League.
United, who were leading 1-0 at the time of the incident, went on to lose 2-1 to Madrid and were subsequently knocked out of the competition.
As far as red cards go, there were few more controversial than this one.
4. AC Milan vs. Barcelona in UCL
Barcelona were highly favored to progress when they drew AC Milan in the Champions League Round of 16. Few could have predicted the drama that was to lie ahead.
In one of the most shocking results of 2013, Milan stunned Barcelona 2-0 at the San Siro in a very dominant performance, which left Barca on the brink of elimination.
However, buoyed by the brilliance of Lionel Messi and David Villa, Barcelona roared back in the second leg to win 4-0 and end up qualifying for the quarterfinals of the tournament after all.
Two of the most shocking results ended up giving us exactly what we'd expected all along.
3. Balotelli and Mancini Fight
When details emerged of Manchester City's training-ground fight between Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini, few could believe what was unfolding in the news.
Images of the pair grabbing at each other in anger was an incredible thing to see at a Premier League club, and sparked speculation surrounding Balotelli's future with the defending champions.
He would eventually be sold to AC Milan later in the month, but not before the footballing world had finished taking in one of the most shocking stories of the year.
2. All-Spanish FIFA Team of the Year
Few predicted the shock that was to come at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Awards, when the release of the 2012 Team of the Year revealed an entire lineup made up of La Liga players.
Not one Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A or Ligue 1 player even made the list, with several huge omissions from the team causing great controversy amongst fans.
Andrea Pirlo, Robin van Persie, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Ashley Cole, Vincent Kompany, Giorgio Chiellini, Yaya Toure, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gomez—all were left out of the team, and nobody could understand why.
It was a simply ridiculous decision made by FIFA in selecting the team that they did, and one that will no doubt remain with plenty of football fans for a lot longer still.
1. Match-Fixing Scandal
As far as shocking storylines go in 2013, there can be no greater than the match-fixing scandal that has engulfed the sport throughout this year.
An official release from Europol claimed that 425 match officials and players across 15 different countries were suspected of involvement in attempting to fix more than 380 games.
The investigation is still ongoing, and is likely to be for many more months, so it's unclear as to where the story will end up. However, one thing's for certain—having witnessed the story breaking and the reaction from around the world, it's safe to say that this was a pretty big story for world football.
And it isn't going away any time soon.
What do you think have been the most shocking storylines from 2013?
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