It’s been a strange season of football. The quality wasn’t always the best, three of the top leagues (in Spain, England and Germany) were effectively over by February and there wasn’t even a big end-season international tournament to look forward to. However, the season did throw up more than its fair share of surprises. Here are eight headlines you’d not have predicted when the season began last August.

u Bayern Munich 7, Barcelona 0

That was the scoreline from the two legs of the Champions League semi-final. Bayern eviscerated—there really is no other word for it—a lacklustre Barca side with speed, inventiveness, organization and a devastating counter-attack. It summed up Barcelona’s Jekyll-and-Hyde season—they won the Primera Liga by miles but were off the pace in Europe, memorably losing to Celtic and to Milan. The semi-final thrashing was their heaviest defeat in a European tie and they seemed to be tired, out of ideas and in need of a new system.

u Man City sack Mancini

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

u Burkina Faso in a final

Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images

u Guardiola joins Bayern

Photo: Angel Martinez/Getty Images

u All-German final

Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

In hindsight, it was the most obvious thing but few saw this coming, as evidenced by the bombshell effect when the news was confirmed on Manchester United’s Twitter handle. Alex Ferguson’s retirement was only a matter of time, given that he was past 70, and perhaps the clearest sign was his anguished and emotional response to Nani’s sending-off against Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League. He went out in fitting style: Manchester United duly claimed their 20th English league title, the 13th under him. The mould is now officially broken.

u Bale’s hat-trick of awards

Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

u Two managers by May

Photo: Francisco Leong/AFP

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor ofCricinfo.

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