With 2017 behind us, Goal is looking ahead to predict the winners and losers in 2018, by using Football Manager 2018.
What will be the big shocks, who will win the major tournaments and can Cristiano Ronaldo claim another Ballon d’Or? All will be answered.
Considering Manchester City’s actual dominance, it was a surprise to see Arsenal finish the 2017-18 season as Premier League champions. The Gunners amassed 81 points to finish nine points clear of runners-up Liverpool, while City were only fourth, a further point back. Of course, on the simulation Arsenal didn’t have to overturn City’s early-season form, with Pep Guardiola’s team failing to top the table at any point of the season.
However, probably a bigger shock than Arsenal lifting the Premier League trophy was Watford’s Troy Deeney topping the goalscoring charts with 21 goals.
Fast forward to the end of 2018 and Manchester United are top of the Premier League on goal difference from Liverpool and Chelsea, with all three on 34 points after 16 games. Alexis Sanchez, now playing for Manchester City following a free transfer, is leading the scoring charts with nine goals.
2018 saw Atletico Madrid crowned La Liga champions, topping the table with 96 points and a massive +62 goal difference. Barcelona finished in second spot with 88 points and Real Madrid were third with 83. Despite his team finishing third, Ronaldo was the league’s highest scorer with 25 goals. Real Madrid’s poor league position saw Carlo Ancelotti return to the Santiago Bernabeu as coach to replace Zinedine Zidane, who was sacked at the end of the season.
At the end of 2018, Real Madrid sit top of the table, with new signing Cenk Tosun, who joined from Besiktas for £12.25m, having scored nine goals in six games. Zidane, meanwhile, found a new job as coach of Benfica.
In Italy, it was a dramatic finish to the Serie A season, as Juventus beat Inter to claim their seventh consecutive Scudetto. The Bianconeri clinched the title on the final day of the season after beating Benevento to leapfrog Inter, who could only draw with Sassuolo. Mauro Icardi and Andrea Belotti finished the season as joint top-scorers with 18 goals.
At the end of 2018, Napoli narrowly lead the way, with AC Milan a close second. Parma are back in Serie A but sit bottom of the table.
In France, PSG held top spot for 19 weeks out of 38, but eventually finished second, two points behind Monaco. The Ligue 1 champions were only top for the final two weeks of the season. PSG’s end-of-season capitulation saw Unai Emery replaced as coach by former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.
Topping the scoring charts at the end of the 2017-18 season was Jimmy Briand of Guingamp, with 24 goals. Edinson Cavani took second spot, with PSG team-mate Neymar finishing the season with 18 goals in all competitions.
At the end of the year, PSG sit top of the table, with Monaco five points behind in second. Kasper Dolberg, signed from Ajax for £20m, now leads the line for PSG, with Cavani on the bench.
Bayern Munich dominated in 2018, maintaining first spot from week 19 until the end of the season. RB Leipzig finished second and their striker Timo Werner was top scorer with 19 goals.
At the end of the year, Bayern are once again leading in Germany, with RB Leipzig a close second. New signing Belotti now takes up the central striker role for Bayern, with Robert Lewandowski playing on the right wing.
It was an all-Manchester Champions League final and one which will go down in history as a classic.
Manchester United led 2-0 going into the final 10 minutes only for goals from Sergio Aguero and David Silva, who equalised in the last minute, to take the game into extra-time.
Paul Pogba was sent off five minutes into extra-time for picking up a second yellow card after a foul from behind on Silva. With the match heading for penalties, an Antonio Valencia own goal saw City win their first Champions League crown.
The Europa League was a tense affair, with AC Milan beating Arsenal on penalties in the final after a 2-2 draw and Leonardo Bonucci scoring the decisive spot-kick.
There was heartache for England in Russia, as Gareth Southgate’s team managed to reach the World Cup final, only to lose to France on penalties.
A 90th minute penalty from Daniel Sturridge took the game into extra-time following Kylian Mbappe's opener for France, who had seen Pogba sent off after just eight minutes. France were reduced to nine men when Kurt Zouma was shown a red card on 95 minutes, but England failed to capitalise, and penalty misses from Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson in the shoot-out cost them World Cup glory.
England, who had won all three group games, had made it to the final by beating Brazil 1-0 thanks to an injury-time winner from Raheem Sterling. France needed goals in the 89th and 91st minute to claim a 2-0 win over Belgium in the semi-finals.
Antoine Griezmann and Gonzalo Higuain finished as joint-top scorers with five goals each, while Sterling was named the player of the tournament.
Despite Real Madrid failing to win any trophies in 2018, the 2018 Ballon d’Or was awarded to Cristiano Ronaldo, with Luis Suarez second and Alexis Sanchez finishing third.