Football is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world and the game continues to have its surprises, which is why we follow it regularly. There are plenty of brilliant moments in football and it continues to evoke emotions among the supporters.
The two transfer windows in the year also contribute to the excitement of football as clubs look to bring in new players and supporters are eager, even anxious, to see the new signings and hope that they do well. The transfer of a player could also result in plenty of negative emotions if a player leaves the club in unfavorable circumstances.
The year 2011 had plenty of great moments, like Sir Alex Ferguson showing his boyish charm as United won the historic 19th title and many more things.
The year 2012 is very important for many because of the various club competitions they are in and also because of two major international tournaments, the Euro Championships and the Olympics.
This article provides some of my predictions for 2012. If you do not agree with me, then comment on your predictions for the year.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the greatest managers ever, but he faces one of his toughest challenge in the form of cash-rich Manchester City, who will be top of the table at Christmas.
However, United do have the experience of winning titles regularly and despite losing some of their key players due to injuries, they could have a superb second half of the season where they can win the title.
Also, the option of making one or two key signings in this January transfer window is open for the manager. He could spend the cash to inject more quality depth to the squad.
FC Barcelona have a great chance of beating Real Madrid to the La Liga title considering that they are only three points away and as they showed in the El Clasico, they have a quality team.
With more depth in the squad this season, they have every chance of winning the La Liga title for the fourth consecutive title, though they are bound to face immense competition from Jose Mourinho's team, who are even better than the previous season.
Mourinho is an inspirational leader and the title race could go down to the last game of the league season.
There are plenty of young players who have been hyped a lot for their exceptional talent at a young age. However, Neymar is arguably the pick of the lot and the Brazilian forward is considered to be one of the world's best attacking players despite playing outside Europe.
There are plenty of clubs who will continue to track him, but it depends on Neymar's decision and also the financial capabilities of the club.
There is a good chance that he will move to Real Madrid, who have been linked with him for a huge transfer fee as they look to end Barcelona's domination in the last few seasons.
Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, but they have been much criticized by some for failing to sign a creative midfielder in the summer. However, Sir Alex Ferguson is a manager who is very astute and could make an excellent signing in Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is one of the best young talents in the world.
The midfielder, whose style could possibly suit the La Liga better, could join United because he will not get much playing time at Barcelona and Real Madrid, where there are plenty of quality midfielders.
There have been a number of controversial decisions in the past and there has always been the debate of whether or not technology must be implemented. The main argument against the use of technology for most decisions is that it could lead to more stoppages and disturb the rhythm of the game.
However, goal-line technology could be implemented next year because it reduces the possibility of a wrong goal-line decision, which is very important in the context of the game.
Also, there should not be much time delay and hence, it could be implemented on a trial basis in the next season.
Inter Milan had a rather disastrous start to their season but have managed to recover somewhat in recent weeks since the appointment of former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri as the manager of the club.
Inter Milan still have some quality players like Wesley Sneijder and Lucio at the club, and though the odds are against them finishing in fourth, they have the experience and quality required to finish fourth this season.
Also, they could make one or two signings this season, which will get them up to a minimum of fourth spot in the league.
Van Persie has been in nothing short of sensational form this season with over 30 goals thus far. He is arguably the Premier League's best striker and the Arsenal captain is in the form of his life as well.
Though there are many good strikers like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero in the Premiership, Van Persie has an excellent chance to be the top scorer in the league and win the Golden Boot this season.
Bayern Munich have arguably been the strongest German side in the last decade. The Bavarian giants have the opportunity to win yet another Bundesliga title this season.
Though they are bound to have severe competition from other clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, they are likely to be the most consistent team over the course of the season. Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes has done an excellent job so far. Also, he has been instrumental in strengthening their defense through the signing of Manuel Neuer.
Lukas Podolski has been one of the best players on the German national team for some time now and has scored several goals for his country in major tournaments. However, his club form has been inconsistent to say the least and he also had a very bad spell at Bayern Munich.
However, he has been in scintillating form for Cologne this season, scoring plenty of goals as a centre forward. With Marouane Chamakh failing to impress and Gervinho leaving for the African Nations Cup this season, Wenger could look for a versatile forward in the January transfer window.
Podolski is a player who will certainly provide the Gunners with more firepower. It would be an excellent signing for the Gunners as they look to salvage a Champions League place at the minimum.
Mario Gomez is a player who has divided opinions in the past, but it is undeniable that he is a natural goalscorer and he will keep adding to his tally because of his excellent positioning and poaching skills.
Bayern Munich are on top of the Bundesliga currently and Gomez has contributed quite a lot to that. He is currently the league's leading goalscorer.
He has some excellent players around him like Franck Ribery and Toni Kroos, who provide him with opportunities and he does his job of scoring goals efficiently.
It has been a huge fall from grace for Fernando Torres, who was tormenting all the defenders in the world when he was playing in the Liverpool shirt a few years back.
However, he has rather inexplicably lost his lethal ability to score goals and looks a tormented player for Chelsea.
He is a player of world-class ability, which is why Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign him, but Torres is yet to find form at Stamford Bridge. However, he will be afforded more chances in January due to the departures of Drogba and Kalou to the African Nations Cup.
If he does not find his form by the end of the season, then he is more likely to move from the club and find his form elsewhere.
It has been quite sometime since Juventus were considered as genuine title challengers because they have been through various problems in the last five years. However, this season they have proven that they have the quality to be title challengers and have maintained their position in the top two for virtually the whole of the season.
They have made some excellent signings, including Andrea Pirlo, who has been influential for them. AC Milan will be the closest challengers and it could be a battle which could go down to the last two games of the season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the best strikers in the world and he undoubtedly has the potential to lead Milan to yet another league title with the support around him. Even if Milan do not win the title, there is every chance that the tall Swede will be the top goalscorer in the Italian league.
The Milan striker is very clinical in front of goal and receives plenty of supply from the midfield and fellow forwards. He is their main main in attack and will hopefully continue his prolific goalscoring form in 2012.
Andre Villas-Boas is one of the bright young managers in the game and there is no doubt that he is quite talented considering the success he enjoyed with FC Porto. However, one wonders whether he took the Chelsea job a bit too early in his career.
The task of managing Chelsea is one of the most difficult managerial tasks considering the immensely strong members in the dressing room and the threat of being sacked by Roman Abramovic if they do not perform to his expected levels.
Chelsea are in a transition phase and Villas-Boas is struggling to implement his new philosophy at the club. If they do not finish in the top four places at the minimum, there is every chance that he could get the sack this summer, or maybe even before that with Guus Hiddink waiting in the wings.
Kaka is one of the highest-ever transfer fee signings of Real Madrid and there is no doubt that he is a player of the highest quality. However, in the time he has been there since signing for the Los Blancos, he has only shown glimpses of his quality and has failed to produce consistently enough for the Spanish giants.
The Brazilian is still capable of playing at the highest level and influencing the game as he has shown this season, but with Mesut Ozil regularly selected ahead of him in many games, he could look for a move away at this stage in his career.
There are not many clubs who can afford to sign him and accommodate his wages, but the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have the financial capability to do that.
This is one of the most competitive Premier League campaigns in a long time, with six teams fighting for four places. With Manchester City and Manchester United in the lead for the title race, it comes down to four teams for two spots.
In my opinion, Liverpool will be hit hard by the ban to Luis Suarez and more importantly the injury to Lucas Leiva and will fail to finish in the top four, while Chelsea will miss the presence of Didier Drogba over a crucial period. Also, their manager's indecisiveness and inexperience could be a major factor in them losing out to Arsenal and Tottenham.
Spurs look best poised to finish top four at present while Arsenal, with players returning for the second half of the season, will be stronger than the rest of the others.
Robin van Persie has been arguably the best striker in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in this calendar year as he has regularly scored for the Gunners. He has earned several important points for the team and he seems to enjoy the responsibility of being the captain of the team.
After seeing Cesc Fabregas be too silent and serious as the captain, it has been a genuine change to Van Persie, who clearly holds the club and Arsene Wenger in high esteem.
With his future in question, it is obvious that he will look for the club to be ambitious in January and the summer because he wants to win trophies with the Gunners. However, it is clear that he is not playing for a better deal or angling for an exit. He wants the club to do well and it is clear that the experience of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker have helped him deal with his senior status as the captain of the club.
Though Manchester City and Real Madrid and some others can offer a much more financially attractive deal to Van Persie, the Dutchman is happily settled in London with his wife and children and does seem to be content at the Emirates.
If Wenger does convince him to stay by purchasing one or two world-class talents, then there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to stay at the Emirates.
Martin O'Neill is one of the most respected managers in the Premier League because he has done a respectable job at other clubs in both England and Scotland. His last managerial tenure at Aston Villa did not end on good terms, but he did leave having left Villa a very decent team.
However, he faces a very difficult task at Sunderland where they seek to avoid being relegated.
O'Neill is a very experienced manager and will get the best out of the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Craig Gardner and will establish Sunderland as a top-10 club by the end of the year, possibly even being ahead of Newcastle in December next season.
Tottenham have played some exciting free-flowing football this season and much credit has to be given to the manager Harry Redknapp for establishing them as one of the top clubs in England. However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy faces an extremely difficult in convincing Harry to stay beyond the Euro Championships in the summer if the FA selects him as the prime choice to be the England managers.
He is arguably the most successful English club manager and like every proud Englishman, he does take an interest in the National team. Rejecting the job of being the country's manager will be very difficult for Redknapp, who will want to go out on a high note.
Jack Wilshere is one of the brightest young talents in the world. Having been with Arsenal since the age of nine, it is not surprise that he has the attitude of a fan towards his club.
Like every passionate Arsenal supporter, he wants to finish above arch-rivals Tottenham and not only that, he is so confident on that happening that he has bet with his twitter followers.
The details of the bet can be read here, but the midfielder looks confident. With him returning to the squad hopefully in January, it is very possible that Arsenal can finish above Spurs, especially as they have played all the big clubs apart from Liverpool away from home.
There are a lot of managers who are sacked in the Premiership, but almost everyone believed that it was unfortunate for Carlo Ancelotti to get sacked by Chelsea. He was one of the most dignified managers in the league and deserves to manage a top club only because of his superb credentials.
He did enjoy working in England with Chelsea—with whom he won the Premiership and FA Cup in his first season in charge—and could continue in London if as expected by many, Harry Redknapp does depart Spurs for England.
Ancelotti will be a fantastic appointment if that is the case, because he can attract world-class players and he will take no time adjusting to Spurs having stayed here for more than two years.
Rafael Benitez is one of the more respected managers in the world. Though he divided opinions when he was at Liverpool, he also did bring success to the club and is still respected among the Kop.
He did have his share of bad signings, but he also made some superb signings, most notably Fernando Torres. He is currently without a job after getting the sack at Inter Milan, but he could have the perfect opportunity to prove that he is a superb manager by establishing Paris St. Germain as a top European club.
The cash-rich French club could sack the current manager Antoine Kombouare after some inconsistent results, especially in Europe, and could opt for Benitez who does encourage attacking football.
Bayern Munich are arguably the biggest club in Germany and they have some of the best German talents in their squad. The likes of Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger are regulars in the Germany national team and that could be influential in signing Borussia Monchengladbach's Marco Reus, who is one of the brightest talents currently in the Bundesliga.
He has been prolific for the German club and his dazzling displays on the wing mean that Bayern will be looking to sign him up in the summer. There is a good chance that they will manage to sign him because he does have a release clause in the summer and Bayern Munich could meet that in order to add the Germany international to their squad.
Mario Goetze is one of the best young players and he is a talent to watch out for in the future. He is certainly amongst the world's best even at such a young age and it is no surprise that he has been tracked by several clubs, including London giants Arsenal and the Bavarian giants Bayern Munich.
Though there are no signs of these rumors fading away, there is a good chance that the Germany international will continue to stay at least for another year and could move in the next January window or even next summer to a bigger club.
Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale are two of the best Wales players in this generation. Despite the tragic loss of their forward-thinking manager Gary Speed, Welsh football will continue to progress thanks to the foundations laid by the late Speed.
However, there seems to be a debate in Wales regarding whether or not Ramsey and Bale should take part in the Olympics as part of Great Britain, mainly because the teams will be selected by Stuart Pearce, who was appointed by the England FA alone.
However, common sense is likely to prevail and the duo is likely to play in the first major tournament in their short careers.
England managers come under plenty of pressure and criticism. Fabio Capello has been no exception, as he received an enormous amount of flak for the team's insipid performance at the World Cup.
However, the FA has decided to stick with him and to his credit, he helped England negotiate through a tricky qualifying group. Capello has achieved plenty of success in the past in club football and it will not be a surprise if England does do well in this competition.
In my opinion, they have the quality to reach the semifinals and I think that they will do that this time under Capello, leaving many to ponder whether he should remain even after 2012.
Though Van Persie has not been consistent enough at country level as he has been for the Gunners, there is no doubt regarding his ability to score goals consistently. He is a lethal finisher and will start for the Netherlands consistently because of his all-around play.
He has been extremely hard to defend for all defenders in the Premier League. It would not be a surprise if he again proves his quality by finishing as the top goalscorer for the Netherlands.
Germany are one of the most exciting teams to watch in International football and they are many of the neutrals' favorite team because of their attacking style of play.
They have reached the finals and the semifinals of several major competitions in recent years but have not won a World Cup or a Euro tournament, which is what they will look to achieve this time.
They have one of the most balanced and exciting sides in the world and there is no reason why they cannot win the big prize this time in 2012.
David Beckham is one of the greatest English footballers in the last decade and is also a model professional. With the ability to charm on and off the pitch, he has to be considered as one of English football's main figures in the last decade.
It is fitting if he does take part for GB in the Olympics in a role to guide youngsters to success. The former Manchester United midfielder is out of contract at LA Galaxy and despite their interest in him, it is likely that he will join Paris giants PSG in a bid to boost his chances of playing in the Olympics.
Carlos Tevez is a player of immense quality and it is a shame that he has not played competitive football for around three months now. The Argentine striker was arguably City's most important player in the previous two seasons, but the arrival of Sergio Aguero and the form of Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko has meant that he is not indispensable for Roberto Mancini.
With Tevez still in Argentina, it is inevitable that he will move away from City, but the question is which club will be ready to pay the big transfer fees if City do not offer him out on loan.
Though Tevez has had his way in City on more than one occasion, there is less chance that he will remain at City for the second half if PSG was an option for the Argentine forward.
Despite his preferences, it is City who have to do the business and it is common logic that they will not sell the striker on the cheap or send him out on loan.
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has not been at his best form in the last year or so, but he retains the ability to be lethal in front of goal despite the big signing of Fernando Torres.
With a lot of speculation regarding his future, there is a chance that he could leave, especially if they sign another striker. However, there is also a very good chance that he will sign a new contract because Villas-Boas will not want to lose a player of his experience and Drogba does have a settled feeling at the club.
Edinson Cavani is one of the most feared strikers in the world and it is not surprising that he is tracked by various clubs around the club. He has been prolific for the Serie A side and the Napoli forward could get offers to leave to big clubs.
Though he is clearly enjoying his spell at Napoli, it will be hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid if they do make a serious offer. Napoli will be reluctant to sell the forward, but a player of his quality needs to play Champions League football continuously, which is why Cavani could move to Madrid in the summer.
Eden Hazard is a player who has impressed many people despite being only 20 years of age. He was named as the best player of the French league for his performances last season.
Hazard was extremely influential in Lille winning the French title in the previous season, but he will inevitably leave the club sometime in the future. However, there will be a lot of clubs and it will be an important decision to make for both Lille and the player.
My prediction is that he will be off to Etihad stadium and hopefully he'll prove his quality in the Premiership.
Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the Premiership and there is no doubt that most clubs in the world would love to have a player like him marauding down the left flank.
FC Barcelona are arguably the most attractive club side in the world and it would not be a surprise if they decide to strengthen with Bale. With Bale capable of playing LB as well as in an advanced winger role, they could sign the winger for his versatility and quality.
If Redknapp does leave the club, then the chances of Bale leaving increase as well, because Redknapp has been influential to Bale developing into a quality player.
Luka Modric is one of the finest midfielders in the Premiership and one of Tottenham’s most important midfielders because of his creativity from central midfield. He has formed an excellent partnership with Scott Parker this season and the duo have helped Spurs dominate games in midfield.
However, Modric could leave the club in the summer for Chelsea or Manchester United or any one of the big clubs, because Spurs cannot compete with the wages they offer and he wants to win major trophies.
Also, the possibility of Harry Redknapp leaving the club could be a factor, but Spurs will hope that they can convince their best players to stay at the club because they are only starting to show their immense potential as a team.
Frank Lampard is one of the greatest Chelsea players ever, but at the age of 33, he is no longer an automatic starter for the side like he was before a couple of seasons. Age does catch up with all players at some point or another, and the question is whether Lampard will be happy with a squad role in the club, where he has been the most influential midfielder for more than a decade.
If Villas-Boas does add another central midfielder to Chelsea, then that will further reduce his playing time, which is why Lampard could leave the club. He could even move to the USA like Thierry Henry or David Beckham or join many other clubs who will undoubtedly be interested in his services.
Wayne Rooney is one of the most gifted English players, but due to his rash foul in the last game of the qualifying campaign, he misses the first two games of the season. However, England are still the favorites to qualify from a tough group involving France, Sweden and Ukraine.
They do have many quality players like Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott in their team, but it is Wayne Rooney who can provide the edge for England in this tournament. Though he has not performed at his best in some major tournaments to date, he has matured well under Sir Alex Ferguson.
This will be the tournament where he can show that he is ready to lead his country to glory.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are arguably the two best players in the world and their rivalry has been fascinating to watch in the last couple of seasons. It is clear that both do enjoy this competitive rivalry and keep improving themselves to reach greater heights.
Ronaldo did finish with more league goals than Messi in the previous season, though the Argentine was very close to him. The fact that he was rested for some games after winning the La Liga title also contributed in him not able to be the top goalscorer.
However, Messi could beat Ronaldo on their goalscoring record this season considering that this will be a closer season and he looks more ruthless than ever.
Daniele De Rossi is one of the most important players for Roma and has been very influential for a long time for the club. The central midfielder is the key to Luis Enrique’s team but has been linked with a move away in the recent past.
However, he has a close affiliation with the club and though the club are not doing well, the owners have shown reasonable ambition. In my opinion, De Rossi will sign a new deal to stay with the club.
Brazil are a nation which keeps producing some of the best talents in the world and they have a proud history of the country as a footballing nation. They have some of the best young talents in the form of Paulo Ganso, Lucas Moura and obviously Neymar.
Though the Olympics football tournament is not a tournament taken seriously by all countries, it is still a prestigious tournament to win and with so many talented youngsters in their team, Brazil have every chance of winning the tournament, which could feature some of the best youngsters in the world.
There have been plenty of controversies involving John Terry, but he has been one to fight his way through difficult situations. The English defender was renamed as the England captain by Fabio Capello after their debacle at the World Cup and he has done well since for country.
However, with this latest racism controversy and the police deciding to press charges against the defender, Terry faces a lot of problems. With Anton Ferdinand’s brother Rio Ferdinand likely to make the squad, there have been many people who have asked Capello to strip Terry of the captaincy.
However, with Capello most likely going out after the Euros, he will look to have his best captain for the tournament and Terry will captain the team despite the various controversies.
With many brilliant strikers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the Champions League, it is difficult to be the top goalscorer.
In my opinion, Mario Gomez has the highest probability of becoming the highest goalscorer because he is one of the most opportunistic strikers and capitalizes immensely on his poaching instincts. Bayern Munich are bound to create plenty of opportunities and they will likely go quite a long way in the Champions League.
Gomez will continue to score vital goals for Bayern, as he is their main striker, and could end the European competition as the leading goalscorer.
Former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique did have a tough task when he was appointed as the manager of Roma, but he has had a torrid time at the club. Though he has made some good signings in his time at the club, such as Erik Lamela, he is yet to completely win over the team and the fans.
His style of play adapted from Spain involves a lot of passing, but they have lacked the penetration and understanding, which has resulted in inconsistent results for the former Barcelona B coach.
Also, the consistent changing of the team has not helped them, which is why he could leave the club in 2012.
David Silva is one of the most talented players in the world and it is no surprise that he has impressed for Manchester City because he is a player capable of making a huge difference to the team.
Though City signed Samir Nasri from Arsenal, who is also a creative midfielder, Silva remains the creative hub of the team and is arguably their most important player in attack.
He has demonstrated an immense level of consistency and quality and irrespective of where City win the title or not, he could be named as the Best Player of the Season, though Arsenal’s Robin van Persie will provide him with stiff competition.
Alexandre Pato is a very talented Brazilian footballer but has been rather unfortunate with plenty of injuries sustained throughout his career. Pato is a quality player but has been inconsistent on some occasions and has not been afforded chances regularly in the last couple of seasons due to the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other forwards like Robinho.
If Milan do sign another forward, then there will be less chances for Pato and he could leave the club.
Arsene Wenger has been pragmatic when it comes to decision-making but has been cautious when it comes to spending big in the transfer market. The French tactician sold two of his best players in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, but did bring in some intelligent signings like Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Gervinho.
With Arsenal financially stable and having high ambitions as they enter 2012, it will not be a surprise if Wenger decides to invest some money in new signings, because it is the only way to persuade the big players to stay at the club and to make this club again a title-winning side.
Emmanuel Adebayor has been a controversial figure at some of his previous clubs and struggled during his time at Manchester City, in particular.
However, a loan spell to Real Madrid briefly revived his form before he joined Spurs on loan at the start of this season. Adebayor has found his best form with Spurs and has been prolific for the North London club. He is a very important player for the club, though his wages mean that it will be difficult to make a permanent deal in the summer.
However, the player is clearly happy at Spurs and in my opinion, there could be a compromise reached between the player and the club, especially if they qualify for the Champions League.
Yoann Gourcuff is one of the best French players and he has represented France on a lot of occasions. However, since his move from Bordeaux to Lyon, his form has dropped alarmingly and he has been a pale shadow of his former self, failing to impress at the club.
He still has the quality but clearly lacks the confidence and with Euro 2012 in the summer, he could look for a move in the January transfer window. There is a good possibility that Arsenal could be interested, considering that he could be a good addition to the team, which lost Cesc Fabregas in the summer.
Paris St. Germain have one of the richest owners in world football and they have invested quite a lot in bringing in players in the summer. They made some big-money signings, such as that of Javier Pastore and Kevin Gameiro.
Though they are close to the top of the table, they are under threat from other clubs like Lille and Montpellier. It will be a difficult season for the French club, but with a new manager set to be appointed, PSG's results will only improve and it will be hard to catch a team of their quality for their rivals.
Real Madrid are one of the greatest teams in the world and historically, they have won the highest number of Champions League titles since its inception.
However, with Barcelona establishing themselves as the world's best team in the last three years, it has been difficult for Madrid even with the addition of world-class superstars such as Ricardo Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Jose Mourinho's first season in charge was not very successful—though they won the Copa Del Rey trophy—but his teams generally perform better in the second season and they could yet win the Champions League in 2012.
They have an excellent team capable of challenging the best and there is no reason why they cannot win against the best teams in the world. It will be a phenomenal achievement for Jose Mourinho and his men, as it will finally end Barcelona's domination.