Most of all, Barcelona have claimed the Champions League and La Liga double to crown themselves as not just the best team in Europe, but the best team of this generation. Superlatives stopped doing justice to Pep Guardiola’s side a while ago, and the greatest compliment that can be paid was being applauded off the field by the opposition supporters, as they were against Manchester United in the European final.
And for United, it was a successful year. Not one of their best sides, but to have won a 19th title without having a particularly great side is a significant achievement in itself. In particular for Sir Alex Ferguson, whose personal role in the title triumph emphasises his claim to be the greatest manager in British football history.
But city rivals Manchester City also enjoyed a good year with their Premier League triumph, though on an individual level it was not without a few fights along the way. Mario Balotelli has had fights with team mates and with bibs, Carlos Tevez wants to leave and Emmanuel Adebayor came to blows with Kolo Touré.
Arsenal came close to breaking their five year trophy drought, but were beaten by Birmingham in the Carling Cup final, whilst also failing to take their opportunities in the Premier League to clinch the title.
Across the channel, Lille were celebrating their first championship in 54 years after a superb campaign, whilst Lyon just about held onto their Champions League status. At the other end of the league, Monaco suffered relegation to Ligue 2 for the first time in 34 years. And Evian will be playing in Ligue 1 next season after another remarkable campaign for the tiny eastern outfit.
Like Lille, Borussia Dortmund are celebrating a wonderful title win achieved in style thanks to flair and youth, as they brushed aside their Bundesliga opposition comfortably. It was déjà vu for the runners up Bayer Leverkusen and Michael Ballack, who have perfected the art of coming second. And it was almost a disastrous season for Bayern Munich, who saved themselves with qualification for the Champions League after a poor season.
Further south, in Italy, and AC Milan became the first team who aren’t called Inter Milan to win Serie A post Calciopoli. Talking of Calciopoli, Juventus are still suffering the effects.
Injuries didn’t help their cause as Gigi del Neri lost his job after guiding Juventus to an uninspiring seventh placed finish and failed to qualify from a Europa League group involving Lech Poznan and Manchester City. He was unfortunate in that the Old Lady suffered with injuries, particularly to star forward Fabio Quagliarella, but it was a desperate campaign for the former Sampdoria coach, and his former club also suffered. Samp were relegated after having qualified for the Champions League last season. Riccardo Garrone must be regretting his decision to release Antonio Cassano after the pair had a row mid season, and let him join champions AC Milan, as well as the equally disastrous sanctioning of the sale of Giampaolo Pazinni to Inter Milan mid season. Sampdoria could barely score a goal in the second half of the season, and was the reason why they eventually finished in the bottom three and were relegated to Serie B.
Saddled by debt, the Italian side join Spanish outfit Deportivo and England’s Birmingham City in facing an uncertain financial future after surprise relegations to the second tier of their respective countries. Birmingham’s future is precarious after their relegation, and Depor similarly have debts which they will hope they can get under control.
Across the Atlantic, and Fluminense had a season to remember when they clinched the Brazilian championship at the end of the last campaign. Spurred on by Dario Conca, Muricy Ramalho’s men powered their way to the title, but they will have a tough time holding off rivals Flamengo this year, who brought in Ronaldinho. Internacional should have had a good year but a shock defeat to TP Mazembe in the Club World Cup marred their campaign.
This year, it will be a great season for either Santos or Penarol. Santos could win their first Copa Libertadores final since the days of Pélé when they take on the five time winners from Uruguay. It will likely only increase interest in their star men, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, but Santos will be dreaming of glory after booking their place in the final with a win over Cerro Porteno, another side to have enjoyed a good campaign, though they too will lose their best player this summer, Juan Iturbe, to Porto.