The 6 Luckiest Teams in World Football This Season
The 2012-13 season has been full of ups and downs, exciting incidents and questionable decisions, which has ultimately led to a lot of heartache for some teams and glorious finales for others.
For many clubs, getting the slightest stroke of luck—a dodgy assistant's flag, a deflection, a crossbar—could mean the difference between success and failure, while others perhaps see a rather bigger slice of fortune fall their way.
Of course, no season can be summed up in one moment of good or bad luck, not when so many matches come before it. But there's no doubt that some clubs have made the most of the good fortune which has smiled upon them.
Here are the six luckiest clubs around the game this year.
Borussia Dortmund are busy preparing for their Champions League final against Bayern Munich—but they needed a big slice of luck or two to get there.
Earlier in the competition, they faced elimination at the hands of Malaga. The Spanish side led by a 2-1 scoreline with just minutes of injury time remaining, only for two late, late goals to turn things around for the Germans. The second goal though was clearly offside, with Felipe Santana stabbing in from only a yard out, on the wrong side of the goalkeeper.
It wasn't spotted, and Dortmund progressed. As seen in this video at 101greatgoals.com, manager Jurgen Klopp wasn't particularly bothered: "Our third goal [was offside]? Oh! But I heard their second goal was too. It's very important information, so it's ok!"
Dortmund also rode their luck in the semifinals against Real Madrid. After seeming to be out of sight following a 4-1 first-leg win, the Germans conceded twice late against Real. Then Sergio Ramos had a late, late chance to score a dramatic goal to send Real Madrid through, as Dortmund's defensive resolve suddenly crumbled in a matter of moments.
They saw the game out, though, and reached the final.
What a way to effectively win the league title.
Porto and Benfica had been neck-and-neck with each other through the entire league season in Portugal's Liga Sagres, neither side losing a single match during the entire campaign.
Come the penultimate day of the season, Benfica led the standings by two points, as Porto played hosts to their rivals. Only a win would do for the home side; even a draw for Benfica would all but guarantee them the title, as they needed just a win on the final day.
The game was 1-1 as the 90-minute mark passed, and Benfica were mere moments away from the result they needed—but Kelvin popped up to smash home a dramatic injury-time winner, wrecking Benfica's hopes of title glory.
Porto went on to claim the title with a final-day win—but luck was very much on their side when Kelvin's left-footed volley found the far corner of the net, just about evading the goalkeeper and the inside of the post.
Benfica, on the other hand, would have thought themselves extremely hard done by.
There are few things luckier in football than making it through the playoffs unscathed, but what is luckier is avoiding them completely.
Steve Bruce and his Hull City side managed to achieve just that, when on the final day of the English Championship season a series of events conspired to send them up, promoting them to the Premier League in dramatic circumstances.
Hull simply needed to match Watford's result on the last day to go up in second place, but must have thought they'd blown their chances when they conceded a 90th-minute equaliser to only manage a 2-2 draw against Cardiff City.
Watford were 1-1 at home to Leeds United and pushing hard for a second goal, a goal which would see them promoted automatically instead of Hull. But an error from Watford's stand-in goalkeeper saw Leeds score an unexpected late second goal instead, meaning Hull had to wait no longer.
Promotion was theirs, and they will be in the top flight next year.
Wigan Athletic have suffered a season full of dramatic highs and lows.
On the downside, they have been relegated from the Premier League, are potentially losing their long-serving manager and have several talented young players who may follow suit.
So where's the luck? Well, they've sealed their first-ever major trophy with an FA Cup victory, balancing relegation with silverware, and where they lose out on the finances of the Premier League, they will recoup some by featuring in Europe.
Not every team gets to trade off a season of relegation with such positivity.
Monaco were once one of the top sides in the French league, before season 2010-11 saw them relegated to Ligue 2.
Having since been sold to a wealthy investment group, Monaco appointed Claudio Ranieri as boss and have this season been promoted back into Ligue 1.
And the luck? How about coming back into the top flight, loaded with cash to spend, and with a big rival in PSG who can offer the same? These two could engage in a titanic tussle in the French championship for years to come, bringing big-name players to the league with the fantastic wages they can offer.
It's also fair to say there are a lot of players potentially available this summer, meaning Monaco could very quickly make themselves a huge force once more.
There remains one more lucky element: Monaco's principality state means they have tax exemption rights which the other Ligue 1 teams do not enjoy, something which hasn't gone down well with their rivals.
It could be a fantastic bargaining tool for Monaco to attract players with—though according to ESPN, the other clubs are trying their best to level the playing field.
It doesn't get much luckier than not having any serious opposition to stop you winning a domestic championship.
That was the fate which befell Celtic in the SPL, after city rivals Rangers were demoted to the Third Division.
With no club outside the big two having won the league since 1985, Celtic were pretty much handed a completely free pass to the trophy this year.
They duly won the league by a mere 16 points, and next season will no doubt be more of the same.