It’s been a long, hard two weeks without soccer, as the leagues have all been on an international break. Fortunately for soccer fans, the break is over and we can go back to watching the teams that we so dearly love.
Here’s a recap of the major highlights from the past two weeks, as well as my predictions for upcoming matches.
What we missed:
The summer transfer deadline passed on Sept. 1. As usual, it was not without drama. Perhaps the biggest event was one that did not even occur; Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea’s expected transfer to Spanish club Real Madrid never became a reality.
The summer was filled with stories that United would only give de Gea up in exchange for star defender Sergio Ramos. After Ramos signed a new deal with Madrid, it appeared that any deal was dead. The day of the transfer deadline, the necessary paperwork for de Gea’s transfer was not submitted in time. The two clubs spent the next few days blaming each other, while de Gea himself said nothing.
In an even more bizarre twist, de Gea ended up signing a four-year contract extension with Manchester United after trying to force a deal. He made his season debut for United against Liverpool Sept. 12.
In other transfer-deadline-related news, Manchester United finally said farewell to struggling striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Hernandez had floundered under manager Louis van Gaal. Here’s to hoping that his time at Bayer Leverkusen will be happier.
United also shelled out 49 million euros at the deadline for French teenager Anthony Martial, who already seems to be making an impact with the team. Manchester City made itself even more lethal with the acquisitions of defender Nicolas Otamendi (45 million euros) and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (76 million euros).
England became the first team — excluding the French hosts — to qualify for the 2016 Euro Cup with its 6-0 victory over San Marino. It is also the only team that has maintained a perfect record. Captain Wayne Rooney became the top goal-scorer in English history, overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s 49-goal record in a 2-0 victory over Switzerland.
In a heartwarming story, Iceland also qualified for the 2016 Euro Cup. It will be Iceland’s first-ever appearance in a major tournament. Is anyone else wondering whether the United States’ striker Aron Johannsson regrets not playing for Iceland?
Austria and the Czech Republic also qualified for Euro 2016, bringing the total up to five teams.
The Netherlands continued its dismal season under new coach Danny Blind, losing to both Iceland and Turkey. This means that the Dutch can no longer automatically qualify for Euro 2016, as the top two spots have already been taken. If the Netherlands can overtake Turkey for third place, it will face a playoff to get into the tournament. The current version of the team is a far cry from the team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup.
The United States also continued to struggle, losing 4-1 to Brazil in a friendly match. The Brazilians dominated the entire match, with the Americans only managing to squeeze in a late goal in the dying seconds of the game. It appears that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s future may be uncertain.
Chelsea’s season continued its rocky start, with the defending champions losing 3-1 to Everton. This is Chelsea’s worst start to a season since 1988. The Blues are about to concede more goals than they did in the entirety of the 2004-05 season, the first season that Jose Mourinho was in charge.
In another blow, Chelsea lost its stellar goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a good portion of the season to a knee injury. It will be interesting to see whether or not Chelsea can turn things around.
For me, this weekend was tough. Liverpool, the club that I support, lost spectacularly against rival Manchester United. The entire game was rather dull compared to how fierce the rivalry games have been in the past. United earned a deserved win against a Liverpool side that looked boring without suspended midfielder Philippe Coutinho. This will be a tough one to swallow.
What to look forward to over the next two weeks:
Arsenal will play Chelsea Sept. 17. The game between the two London giants is always great to watch. Expect this one to be even better, due to Chelsea’s current woes and Arsenal’s good form. Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal.
Manchester City will face off against Tottenham Hotspur Sept. 26. City has continued to dominate the league, while Tottenham has gotten off to a terrible start. Prediction: 3-0 Manchester City.
The Champions League group stages also get underway this week. Make sure to find some time to catch a game.
Vanessa Craige is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. The Beautiful Game appears every other Tuesday.