World Football: A-Z of What to Expect in 2012
2012 will be an exciting year for football, and here is the A-Z of what to expect in the coming year.
From Anzhi to Zero Tolerance, this is a definitive list of what you can expect from football in 2012.
With the Olympics, African Cup of Nations and European Championships all happening along with domestic and European competition, this is set to be one of the most memorable years in recent times.
Anzhi Makhachkala are one of the richest clubs in the world. They have proven in 2011 that they are not afraid to spend their money.
In the coming year the Russian club will continue their spending spree, bringing in more big names.
We won't see Anzhi in the Champions League, or even the Europa League in 2012, but they will make strides towards getting there.
Barca Will Be Bruised
Barcelona currently has one of those teams that will be talked about for a very long time. I can well imagine telling my grandchildren about how great this team really was. But in 2012, they will get a bruising.
Whilst everyone expects them to walk away with every trophy they put in for, this year will be different.
A semi-final defeat in the Champions League, a disappointing second place in La Liga, and one bad day in the Copa del Rey will mean Barcelona ends 2012 without a trophy.
They will go down in history as probably the best team not to win anything (for a year anyway) and will end 2012 bruised, but back at their best.
Crawley Will Climb
Crawley Town shot to fame when they met Manchester United in the FA Cup last year. Since then they have powered their way out of the Conference and have taken League Two by storm.
Backed by wealthy owners, expect 2012 to see Crawley continue their climb up the football league.
First they will get into League One, then they will continue to impress once there.
David Beckham will be on our screens and in our newspapers more than ever in 2012.
With a big money move back to Europe more than likely, along with an appearance at the London Olympics, Beckham will be everywhere.
As the former England captain moves towards retirement he will be keen to make one last impression on the world of football. 2012 will be the year that Beckham returns to Europe for one final fling.
England Will Flog...Again
As an outsider looking in, England during a major tournament must be hilarious. The nation seems to forget that England never seem to perform at major tournaments, despite qualifying well.
Once again, Euro 2012 has seen England qualify well for a major tournament. They will flop once they get there.
A difficult group that gives three tough games, Wayne Rooney missing for two of them, England are going to really struggle to even get out of their group. If they do, don’t expect them to get any further than a disappointing defeat in the last 16.
France Will Be Feared Again
France are the real sleeping giants of European football at the moment. After winning the World Cup in 1998, and the European Championships in 2000, things went downhill quickly.
The retirement of Zinedine Zidane obviously had a big effect on the team, but events culminated in that disastrous trip to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Now Les Bleus seem to be on the right track once again. Under the guidance of Laurent Blanc, France quickly become feared again.
Expect 2012 to be a great year for France. They won’t win Euro 2012 but they will surprise a lot of people.
Great Britain Olympic Team
The Great Britain football team at the London Olympics will be one of the biggest talking points of 2012.
Already there has been a huge amount of speculation about who will go to the games. The big talking point has been how well represented Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be.
When the team is announced in June expect a huge amount of comment and analysis on the squad itself. Then once the games begin, fans in England especially, will be expecting nothing less than a Gold medal.
Hawk Eye will make its long awaited debut in world football in 2012. Already being tested, the system will be shown off to the public in the next 12 months.
With the aim of being used to provide instant decisions in the event of goal line uncertainty, hawk eye could be a big hit in 2012. Already a success in cricket and tennis, all eyes will be on Hawk Eye when it makes its football debut.
Ryan Giggs introduced the wider world to the super injunction. Now a year later we can expect to see a few more of them.
The behaviour of footballers is not improving, and with more and more arrests and questionable moral choices in the Premier League there will be a lot more super injunctions in 2012.
Justice for the 96
During 2012 we can expect to hear a lot about the Hillsborough disaster, particularly Justice for the 96.
With government papers relating to the disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died, there is significant hope that there will eventually be justice for those who died.
King Kenny Will Complain
Kenny Dalglish will start 2012 in controversial circumstances, and they won’t go away.
With the Luis Suarez saga set to go on well into 2012, Dalglish will start the year complaining about 2011. But that won’t last long.
Soon enough he will find something more recent to complain about. It could be the FA, it could be a referee, or it could be Sir Alex Ferguson. More likely though, is it will be all three of them. And more.
A lot of managers complain about of lot of things, but in 2012, Kenny will be the King of the Complainers.
Liverpool Will Lose out
I’m not picking on Liverpool, far from it. I like Liverpool. It isn’t my fault K for King Kenny, and L for Liverpool Lose Out are right next to each other.
Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, 2012 will not be a happy year. With competition for a place in the Champions League stronger than ever, Liverpool are set to be the ones that miss out.
The two Manchester clubs look certain to qualify and the most likely pair to follow them are Arsenal and Chelsea. Tottenham are right behind those two, with Liverpool lagging behind.
Getting into the Champions League will be one step too far for Liverpool this year.
More Manchester Madness
Football in Manchester has, well, truly gone mad. No longer is there just one world class team in the city, there are two.
Manchester City and Manchester United will battle it out in 2012. The two sides will meet in the FA Cup, Premier League and possibly the Europa League. Their rivalry will grow as the year progresses.
(Local rivalry + Two of the best teams in Europe + Huge spending power) x Mario Balotelli = Manchester Madness.
I’m not even going to predict what might happen, but whatever it is, expect fireworks.
Neymar Goes European
Neymar is fast becoming one of the most talked about players in world football. The Santos star is on the verge of being the next global superstar. The only thing needed is a big move the Europe.
Despite expressing his desire to stay in Brazil until 2014, Neymar will find it incredibly hard to resist the temptation of a mega money move to Europe.
Expect 2012 to be the year that Neymar finally makes the move and becomes a superstar of European football.
O'Neill Will Work His Magic
Martin O’Neill has made a return to management at the end of 2011. Back in the Premier League with struggling Sunderland, O’Neill will shine in 2012.
Not only will he keep Sunderland in the Premier League, with a surprising mid-table finish, he will dazzle in the summer transfer market and start next season in blistering form.
By the end of 2012, Martin O’Neill will be hailed as a great manager, turning round the fortunes of a dormant giant who were on the verge of going extinct.
Paris St Germain is one of those lucky clubs to have been taken over by a billionaire. So far the spending in Paris has been limited to one of two big purchases. But that will change in 2012.
Now Leonardo has had a chance to familiarise himself with the French game, PSG will be spending big in 2012.
A couple of fresh faces in January will bolster the squad in Paris. But it will be the summer when the real big money is spent. PSG have the spending power to match any team in Europe, so expect them to use it.
2012 will see PSG start buying their way into Europe’s elite.
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But 10 years before the tournament is set to get under way, it will still be making the headlines.
Other than the initial aftermath there has been very little mentioned about the World Cup being in Qatar. But as FIFA continues to investigate members for dishonest dealings, expect the Qatar World Cup to be in the headlines.
Talk of the unsuitable climate, local laws, and money changing hands will make sure Qatar 2022 is one of the major stories of 2012.
Real Become the Real Deal
Real Madrid has been enduring something of a drought in recent years. Since the departure of David Beckham, Barcelona have dominated in La Liga. In 2012 this will change.
Real Madrid will finally put an end to Barcelona’s dominance, and despite failing to impress in recent El Classico matches, will still have enough to take the title.
Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho Real Madrid will become the real deal in 2012, proving to the football world that Barcelona can be beaten.
Spain Will Be Stopped
Spain has won the last two major international tournaments they have entered. No team has ever won three in a row. Spain will be no different.
Their team has some great talents, without a doubt. But their striking options will let them down in 2012. With Fernando Torres having a torrid time at Chelsea, and David Villa set to miss months with a broken leg, things are tight for Spain.
Holland and Germany are waiting in the wings to take over as European Champions, with Euro 2012 being one tournament too many for Spain.
Although fans are permitted to stand in other parts of Europe, the UK has led the way in safety and has removed standing completely from top level football.
Fans in the Premier League seem determined to stand at matches and would love to bring back the old fashioned terrace to English football. In 2012, they might get one step closer to standing.
As Scottish football looks to re-introduce standing areas to the UK, fan groups in the Premier League are likely to increase pressure on the FA to allow them in England once again.
With documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster due to be released, expect a huge amount of debate and analysis about Premier League terraces in 2012.
Ukraine Will Surprise at the Euros
Few things motivate a team more than being the home nation in a major tournament. But it has been over a decade since the home nation won a major tournament.
That won’t change in 2012. Neither Poland nor the Ukraine are strong enough to win the European Championships. But the Ukraine will be the surprise package of the tournament.
Having home advantage in a relatively even group will be enough to get the co-hosts through to the last 16. Their momentum will build and carry the hosts through to the semi-finals before they will eventually fall.
Villas-Boas Will Be the Villain at the Blues
Andre Villas-Boas has already turned a lot of heads in his short time at Chelsea. The manager, charged with bringing Champions League glory to Chelsea will need to turn into a villain in 2012.
The team Chelsea has is not good enough to win the Champions League. It is too old, too slow and in need of reinvigorating. The problem for Villas-Boas is that the fans at Chelsea are incredibly loyal.
At the moment their loyalty is with the players. Men like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba are legends at Chelsea. As Villas-Boas starts to build his own team, phasing out the current crop of club legends the fans will turn on him.
But Villas-Boas will ride that storm throughout 2012 and Chelsea will stay in contention for almost everything throughout the year.
Wenger Will Win
Arsene Wenger has had a difficult 2011. For the first time during his reign at Arsenal, he was doubted by the fans.
Already he has turned around the majority of Arsenal fans but in 2012 he will win them all over.
There is only one way he can do that: by winning some silverware. Victory in the Champions League is possible but unlikely, so Wenger will target the FA Cup.
2012 will see Wenger win some silverware with Arsenal. And more importantly he will win the backing of the Arsenal fans once again.
X-Tra Time and Penalties
Alright so this one is a bit obvious. In 2012 we can expect a lot of high profile extra time and penalties.
A closely contested Champions League, some FA Cup excitement and of course Euro 2012.
There will be cramp, there will be tears and there will be heartbreak.
Youth Will Rule
This year has been the start of the revolution. In 2012 the young of football will take over.
Forget about players with a bit of experience. The youngster is where it will be in 2012. All the top clubs in football will do what Manchester United has already done.
They will go after young talent and bring them through, moulding them to their own style.
Zero tolerance will come into effect in 2012. As referees start to get more and more abuse from players, coaches and the press, something needs to give.
The FA and UEFA will get tougher and tougher on those who make a fuss about referees. By the end of the year any player or manager standing up to a referee will face action.
As the year comes to an end, referees and officials will have the respect they deserve.