With the New Year fast approaching, it is time to reflect on what 2010 brought to the world of football.
Of course it was an extremely special year, with summer hosting the first ever African World Cup.
South Africa brought nations the world over together to celebrate the game of football, in the most cultured and colourful way possible. The hosts proved all their critics wrong and left a lasting legacy in World Cup history books.
There have been so many fantastic and memorable games throughout the year that it would be difficult to pick out 100, never mind 20. We live in the age of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Xavi and Iniesta (to name a few), so it is no surprise that we see wonder games and wonder goals on a regular basis in leagues all over the world.
Here are 20 of the most memorable games of the year, in the order we saw them.
Chelsea 2 - 4 Manchester City (Stamford Bridge)
Scorers: Lampard (42', 90' pen) / Tevez (45', 76' pen), Bellamy (51', 87')
Man City blew the title race wide open with this win over a nine-man Chelsea side. Stand-in keeper Henrique Hilario made some costly errors between the posts to allow some routine strikes to become goals.
Both Juliano Belletti and Michael Ballack were sent off during the course of the game, and Chelsea failed to capitalise on chances during their early dominance at the Bridge. It cost them dearly.
Of course, Chelsea went on to win the title, but City showed they had a lot to give and could beat the big boys away from home. The result was quite a shock at the time, as Chelsea were cruising and rarely gave away leads such as Frank Lampard had given them.
Arsenal 2 - 2 Barcelona (Emirates Stadium)
Scorers: Walcott (69'), Fabregas (89' pen) / Ibrahimovic (46', 59')
Arsenal and Barcelona met during the quarterfinal stages of the Champions League. As the two teams pride themselves on playing attractive, attacking football, this was an eagerly anticipated fixture.
The Catalans were the first to get on the score sheet with Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting twice. The Gunners replied through substitute Theo Walcott and made a late comeback after Cesc Fabregas was brought down by Carles Puyol in the box.
Puyol was sent off, and Fabregas duly converted but injured himself in the process. The Gunners fought hard but were very much outclassed at their own game.
Barcelona 4 - 1 Arsenal (Camp Nou)
Scorers: Messi (21', 37', 42', 88') / Bendtner (18')
In the second leg the Gunners were not quite so fortunate to hang on. They got off to a good start scoring first through Nicklas Bendtner. From here on it was a one-man show—step forward, Lionel Messi.
Scoring all four of his team's goals, including a first half hat trick, Messi tested the Gunners defence over and over.
The Londoners played the ball forward and did test the Barcelona defence on occasions, but to no avail. A brave performance, but the men in red were simply outclassed, due in no small part to the form of a single Argentinian man!
Manchester United 3 - 2 Bayern Munich (Old Trafford)
Scorers: Gibson (3'), Nani (7', 41') / Olic (43'), Robben (74')
Manchester United went into the second leg quarterfinal having lost 2-1 in Munich. With an away goal already, they only needed at least a 1-0 victory to progress to the next round.
The home side had a fantastic start to the game, going three goals ahead in the first half. The Germans' hopes were raised slightly when Ivica Olic netted just before the break.
Young defender Rafael was dismissed in the 50th minute, and the visitors were able to capitalise on a man advantage. A stunning Arjen Robben volley shocked United fans 16 minutes from time and sent the Bundesliga side through on away goals.
Real Madrid 0 - 2 Barcelona (Santiago Bernabeu)
Scorers: Messi (33'), Pedro (56')
Barcelona were able to end Madrid's 100 percent home record through two fantastic Xavi-created goals.
Messi netted his 40th goal of the season and sent Barcelona to the top of La Liga. The Catalans disrupted Real Madrid, not allowing any rhythm to develop, and showed how far the team had come since the days of Madrid dominance.
Internazionale 3 - 1 Barcelona (San Siro)
Scorers: Sneijder (30'), Maicon (48'), Milito (61') / Pedro (19')
With current European champions Barcelona meeting Jose Mourinho's spectacular Inter Milan side, this fixture was bound to be a must watch.
Inter brought the champions down a peg or two, making even the invincible Lionel Messi look human.
The Italians were able to hold their own during the second leg in Spain and eventually become European Champions for the first time since 1965.
Chelsea 8 - 0 Wigan Athletic (Stamford Bridge)
Scorers: Anelka (6', 56'), Lampard (31' pen), Kalou (54'), Drogba (63', 68 pen, 80'), Cole (90')
In the final day of the 2009-10 season Chelsea clinched their first Premier League title since 2006 with an 8-0 demolition of 10-man Wigan Athletic.
The race for the title was tight, with Manchester United hot on the heels of the league leaders. The Blues had to win to secure the trophy for sure. They decided to do it in style by breaking a goal-scoring record!
The loss of Steven Caldwell in defense may have attributed to the goals tally, but the loss would have been unavoidable; Wigan were terrible.
Atletico Madrid 2 - 1 Fulham (HSH Nordbank Arena)
Scorers: Forlan (32', 116') / Davies (37')
We all watched Fulham's fairytale progression toward the Europa League final. Unfortunately, the underdogs were undone in extra time by Diego Forlan to lose the final.
Roy Hodgson had done exceptionally well to lead his side as far as the final, and they exceeded many peoples expectations in doing so. Liverpool had previously fallen via the boot of Forlan; now it was Fulham's turn.
A great shame, but a fantastic achievement nonetheless.
Bayern Munich 0 - 2 Internazionale (Santiago Bernabeu)
Scorers: Milito (35', 70')
Jose Mourinho led his Inter side to their first European championship since 1956, beating FC Bayern.
By employing counterattacking tactics, Diego Milito was able to score twice, and his side were comfortable in defending their lead to the final whistle.
Germany 4 - 1 England (Free State Stadium)
Scorers: Klose (20'), Podolski (32'), Muller (67', 70') / Upson (37')
When old rivals Germany and England met in the first knockout stages of the World Cup, sparks were always going to fly. The Germans stole the show, completely dominating the game and raising some concerns and questions in the England camp.
Due to extremely poor defending, Germany were able to get an early two-goal advantage through Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. The English were rattled and struggling creatively.
Matthew Upson was able to salvage England's hopes of progression, heading in a clever Steven Gerrard cross. Only seconds later England supporters all over the world were left angered when a Frank Lampard goal was wrongly disallowed.
At halftime it was 2-1, and England had restored some hope. They came out the stronger team, but defensive frailties again gifted the Germans two easy goals. They were out and had been beaten miserably.
Uruguay 1 - 1 (aet) Ghana (Soccer City)
Scorers: Forlan (55') / Muntari (45'+2)
Ghana became the final African team to be knocked out of the 2010 World Cup, under controversial circumstances.
The game was level at 1-1 when the Black Stars had the opportunity to win the game with the final kick of extra time. Luis Suarez clearly handled a goal-bound effort on the line, conceding a penalty and his place on the pitch.
Asamoah Gyan failed to score, hitting the bar and sending his team into a penalty shootout. The Africans were beaten 4-2 on spot kicks, failing to become the first ever team from their continent to reach the semifinals.
The situation was highly unfair, and Suarez has a lot to answer for. However, the game was full of twists and drama—highly entertaining!
Netherlands 2 - 1 Brazil (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium)
Scorers: Sneijder (53', 68') / Robinho (10')
The Dutch came from behind to knock the most successful footballing nation out of the 2010 World Cup.
After an early Robinho goal, the Brazilians were in control and looked likely to capitalise. Wesley Sneijder was able to score twice to put the Dutch in the lead, and the dismissal of Felipe Melo made clinching victory that bit easier.
The Brazilians were out in the quarterfinals.
Netherlands 0 - 1 (aet) Spain (Soccer City)
Scorers: Iniesta (116')
The climax of the World Cup was a final between the Netherlands and European champions Spain. Notorious underachievers Spain became world champions for the first time with a 1-0 extra-time win over the Dutch.
For 116 minutes the two great European sides cancelled each other out, and goals were elusive until Cesc Fabregas played in Andres Iniesta, who hammered home to write Spain firmly into the history books.
Prior to this the Dutch had gone a man down after the dismissal of John Heitinga. This compromised their game plan and was a contributing factor in Spain's late winner.
Manchester United 3 - 2 Liverpool (Old Trafford)
Scorers: Berbatov (41', 59', 84') / Gerrard (64 pen, 70')
Meetings between these two bitter rivals rarely disappoint, and this game had all the components of a classic. The match saw the limelight fall on two key players from either side: Dimitar Berbatov and Steven Gerrard.
Berbatov put his side two fantastic goals ahead, only to watch the lead fade away. Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard stepped forward to break United hearts, scoring two goals in quick succession.
But it wasn't to be, as Berbatov put the game beyond Liverpool's reach with an unbelievable third goal to seal a hat trick and an important three points.
Internazionale 4 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur (San Siro)
Scorers: Zanetti (2'), Eto'o (11 pen, 35'), Stankovic (14') / Bale (52', 90', 90'+1)
Inter may have won this one, but the star of the show beyond doubt was Tottenham's Gareth Bale.
The European champions scored three times in the first 15 mins, and when Eto'o netted a second to make it 4-0, Tottenham looked high and dry. To add to the misery Spurs had lost first choice goalkeeper and an important man when Gomes was dismissed after just 10 minutes.
Step forward, Gareth Bale. The Welshman lead a one-man comeback, netting a hat trick of superb goals and leaving Inter just clinging to victory.
Newcastle United 5 - 1 Sunderland (St. James' Park)
Scorers: Nolan (26', 33', 74'), Ameobi (45', 70') / Bent (90')
A tasty Tyne-Wear derby left Sunderland destroyed 5-1 by bitter local rivals Newcastle.
Captain Kevin Nolan scored a hat trick, penetrating a poor Sunderland back four with ease. The dismissal of Titus Bramble added to the Black Cats' woes, with Shola Ameobi grabbing himself a brace also.
Darren Bent netted a consolation in the final minute, but it won't have consoled Sunderland in any way.
The Black Cats left with their tails between their legs!
Arsenal 2 - 3 Tottenham (Emirates Stadium)
Scorers: Nasri (8'), Chamakh (27') / Bale (50'), Van der Vaart (67 pen), Kaboul (85')
Tottenham proved again their deserving of Top Four status by beating local rivals Arsenal, away, in the North London derby.
The home side went comfortably two goals up before a three-goal Tottenham comeback earned them their first victory at the Emirates.
After a Gareth Bale goal, Cesc Fabregas handled in the box to gift Spurs a spot kick, which Rafael van der Vaart duly converted. Arsenal had a goal ruled offside and pressed hard to find a winning goal before a Van der Vaart free kick was met by the head of Younes Kaboul to seal a victory.
Spurs have had quite a season!
Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 1 Internazionale (White Hart Lane)
Scorers: Van der Vaart (18'), Crouch (61'), Pavlyuchenko (89') / Eto'o (80')
The second group match between Spurs and Inter saw Tottenham find the net three times again, this time for victory.
Gareth Bale failed to make the scoresheet but followed up his San Siro hat trick with a man of the match performance as a key attacking figure.
Spurs fans were left extremely happy with their introduction to European football with a convincing win over the current European champions.
Manchester United 7 - 1 Blackburn Rovers (Old Trafford)
Scorers: Berbatov (1', 27', 47', 61', 69'), Park (23'), Nani (48') / Samba (83')
Manchester United demolished Blackburn Rovers with Dimitar Berbatov stealing the show. Scoring five goals in one game, he joined an elite group of players, including Alan Shearer, who have done so.
United had a field day, and Blackburn could only watch the goals hit the back of their net. Blackburn managed a late consolation, but even Chris Samba himself failed to change his shell-shocked expression.
This was a real turning point in this season for United. Until this point they trailed in second behind a dominant Chelsea, having given away a number of leads. Fergie's words had obviously sunk in, and the Scot was rewarded with a fine performance from his team.
Barcelona 5 - 0 Real Madrid (Camp Nou)
Scorers: Xavi (10'), Pedro (18'), Villa (55', 58'), Jeffren (90'+1)
The first El Clásico of this season was set to be a feisty affair. After back-to-back El Clásico defeats last season and no La Liga title since 2008, Real Madrid, now under the management of Jose Mourinho, had a lot of pride to win back.
It was never going to be an easy task to win at Camp Nou, the home of their bitter rivals, but Jose Mourinho is "the special one," after all. It was only months earlier that his tactics had made the invincible Catalans look average at the hands of Internazionale.
The result was no less than a massive shock.
With some of the best players in world such as Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Kaka, Villa and Ozil (the list goes on!) sharing the field, it was set to be an even affair. It was anything but. Barcelona were outstanding, and the fixture turned into a rout.