Best of 2009
Without a doubt, 2009 was a great year for the game and Soccernetstore.com has a load of gear to help you remember just how great it was. Here are some of the best moments and some of the best kit to go with it.
• Barça v Manchester United, Champions League final.
When Barcelona hired rookie coach Pep Guardiola, no-one really expected immediate success. What the Camp Nou faithful got was much more than they could've dreamed of. The Catalans won everything in sight, with La Liga, the Copa del Rey, Super Copa de España, UEFA Super Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and recently, their first FIFA Club World Cup - making it an unheard of 6th trophy in 2009! For footballing purity, the Champions League final in Rome is one not to miss.
• Confederations Cup 2009 - USA Topples Spain - Brazil Shines Again.
In the precursor to the World Cup, everything pointed to a battle of the heavyweights, as Spain and Brazil started well. After two big losses, Team USA looked headed for an early exit, but crept through to face Euro 2008 champions Spain in the semis. The US shocked the world by beating Spain, thus ending the Spaniards' streak of 15 straight victories, and making its first final in any FIFA competition. In the final though, Brazil showed their dominance to win their third Confederations Cup.
• Summer of Soccer in the USA.
Some of the biggest clubs in World Soccer toured the United States in the Summer of '09. It all got started with the first ever World Football Challenge, where England's Chelsea, Italy's Milanese duo of AC & Inter, and Mexican giants Club America squared off in a mini exhibition tournament that went from coast to coast and drew huge crowds at each venue. Real Madrid, FC Barcelona & Chivas followed suit with massive crowds of their own in a boost for soccer in the US.
• Real Madrid - Return of the Galácticos.
Since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final was destined to be played in Madrid, everyone in the world knew Real Madrid were going to take steps to bolster the team that finished second in La Liga. What no one expected was that the Merengues would land two of the best players on the planet - Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo - then add top talents like Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso as well. What chance of them claiming a place at home in the European final now?
• World Cup Qualifying - The Hand of Henry.
Heavyweights Portugal, Argentina & France struggled throughout qualifying. Portugal could not even count on Ronaldo, as he was injured for their two play-off matches, in which they squeaked past Bosnia-Herzegovina. Argentina barely snuck through on the last matchday with a 1-0 at Uruguay. Then there came arguably the biggest (at least most controversial) moment of 2009. France vs. Ireland. Everyone in the world saw that Henry's extra-time winner was a handball, except the officials. Consequently, the '98 champions advanced to South Africa, and despite massive appeals, Ireland were left out.
• The World Cup 2010 Draw - 11 times the joy
In December the much-anticipated World Cup 2010 draw finally arrived. The Group of Death was determined, as Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea were drawn together, but the official adidas ball was also revealed. Jabulani means to celebrate in Zulu, one of the 11 languages of South Africa, and the design of the Jabulani has 11 colors to honor those 11 languages, in addition to the 11 communities of South Africa and the 11 players on a team. The 11 colors also honor the fact that this is adidas' 11th FIFA World Cup ball.
• England - Tailored to win. Early this year, England launched their new shirt by Umbro, which brought together the traditional values of classic tailoring with modern fabric technology and a revolutionary design philosophy: Style meets performance. Consequently, Fabio Capello's Lions cruised through to qualifying for South Africa 2010, where they will face Team USA.
• Man United - Kings of England.
The juggernaut that is Manchester United Football Club has been the top team in England for a while now, but this year it was made official as they won their third consecutive Premier League (record 11th) title and 18th overall First Division title (tied with Liverpool). While they did not enjoy the success of 2008, United did change their shirt again and their new version looks even better than before.
• The Superfly - The lightest thing on two feet.
As the biggest soccer star in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo's boots could not be ordinary, thus Nike went out of their way to create a boot that would be worthy of their mystical 'airness'. What they created was the Mercurial Superfly: 6.8 ounces built for speed, that pretty much says it all. This slick boot has innovative Flywire technology, carbon fiber outsole, vented insole, and cored-out studs for the lightest boot to ever hit the field.
• MLS '09 - Beckham Finally Shines.
The 2009 Major League Soccer season was unforgettable. It marked the first season of the Seattle Sounders FC, a team that got off to a great start and made the play-offs! Yet the biggest news in MLS was David Beckham and the Galaxy. Becks & Landon Donovan teamed up well and took the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup final in four years. Yet they came up just short, as Real Salt Lake took home their first Cup after a grueling penalty shoot-out.