From Manchester City’s Treble To Lionel Messi’s Switch To Inter Miami: 5 Events That Defined Global Soccer In 2023

Manchester City Lionel Messi Both Had Memorable 2023
Manchester City Lionel Messi Both Had Memorable 2023

2023 has been a monumental year for soccer. The two greatest players of this generation, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, left Europe for good. We saw Napoli win the Serie A title — marking their first Italian top-flight title in 33 years. Manchester City finally ended their UEFA Champions League drought by beating Inter Milan in the final. We also witnessed Spain’s Women’s National Team conquer the world for the first time, besting England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

As we prepare to leave 2023 behind, we will quickly examine the top five occasions that defined the highly eventful year. Now, without further ado, let’s begin!

#5 Manchester City Win The Treble

Manchester City Won The Treble In 2023
Manchester City Lifting The Champions League

Manchester City, who have thoroughly dominated England under Pep Guardiola, finally managed to carry over their supremacy to the coveted continental competition — the UEFA Champions League — this year.

On June 10, the Cityzens faced Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul. It was a tight affair for the English side, with the Nerazzurri doing everything in their power to destabilize the favorites. Shining amidst a valiant performance by the Italians, Rodri ensured City did not return empty-handed. His sublime outside-the-box strike in the 68th minute ensured a 1-0 victory for City, making them the champions of Europe for the first time in their history.

One week before the Champions League final, Man City squared off against cross-town rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final. The Red Devils put up a fight but eventually succumbed to a 2-1 loss. City also had to fight tooth-and-nail for the Premier League title, with Arsenal keeping pressure on them until Matchday 38th. But ultimately, City’s experience ended up separating the two teams.

#4 Lionel Messi Wins 8th Ballon d’Or Award

Lionel Messi Is The Second Oldest Player To Win The Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi Is The First Active MLS Player To Win The Ballon d’Or

Arguably the greatest player the world has ever seen, Lionel Messi, won the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina in Qatar. The former Barcelona superstar caught everyone’s eye with his performances at the World Cup, with him scoring seven times and providing three assists in seven matches to win the Golden Ball as the Player of the Tournament.

Courtesy of his heroics in Qatar, Messi claimed the 2023 Ballon d’Or Award in Paris on October 30, beating Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)’s Kylian Mbappe to the punch. It marked his eighth Ballon d’Or win, taking him three clear of his closest rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

The win also marked a monumental achievement for Inter Miami and Major League Soccer (MLS), as no active MLS player had won the prestigious accolade before.

#3 Spain Women’s National Team Win The World Cup

Spain Won The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
Spain Won The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Spain’s Men’s National Soccer Team need no introduction. They dominated the global soccer scene in the previous decade, playing an unmatched brand of eye-catching soccer and claiming two European Championships (2008, 2012) and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On August 20, 2023, Spain’s Women’s National Soccer Team also left their ever-lasting footprint, winning their first FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia.

Spain played sensational soccer to book a place in the final, leaving Switzerland, Netherlands, and Sweden in their wake. Their final hurdle was against the mighty England and not many saw them coming out on top in this encounter. The Spaniards, however, banded together, upset the odds, and came away with a 1-0 victory. Aitor Bonamati was chosen as the Player of the Tournament and deservedly won the Ballon d’Or Femenin on October 30.

#2 Cristiano Ronaldo Moves To Saudi Arabia

Al Nassr Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo Is The Ambassador Of The Saudi Pro League
Cristiano Ronaldo Is The Highest Paid Player In The World

Around one-and-a-half months after leaving Manchester United by mutual consent, one of the greatest players of this century Cristiano Ronaldo penned a two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr. His decision to move to the desert sent shockwaves around the world, as the player had not previously shown any interest in leaving Europe. The 38-year-old understandably became the highest-paid sportsperson in history, with reports estimating his earnings to be in the region of $200 million per year.

Many criticized Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia, fearing he would not remain as competitive after leaving the highest echelon of European soccer. Over the last year, Ronaldo has proven his doubters wrong, scoring an astonishing 50 goals between Al-Nassr and Portugal. He needs to score three goals in his next three Saudi Pro League matches to become the top goalscorer of 2023.

Ronaldo’s move to Saudi has brought forth a revolution, with many other top players choosing to follow in the Portuguese’s footsteps. Since his transfer, Neymar, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Sadio Mane, and Marcelo Brozovic have all moved to Saudi, showcasing the impact the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s switch has had.

#1 Lionel Messi Joins Inter Miami

Lionel Messi Joined MLS Side Inter Miami In July
Lionel Messi Celebrates After Scoring For Inter Miami Against Philadelphia Union

Like Cristiano Ronaldo, his arch-rival Lionel Messi also left Europe in 2023, joining MLS side Inter Miami as a free agent after running down his contract at PSG. Messi’s switch to the United States has not instigated a mass migration, but his impact on the American soccer scene cannot be overstated.

Since his switch to the States, ticket prices have soared in all of Inter Miami’s games. The MLS Season Pass subscription on Apple TV+ has been selling like hotcakes, meaning more and more non-US natives are keeping an eye on the developments in the top tier of American soccer.

The 36-year-old could not propel Inter Miami to the MLS Play-Offs in his debut campaign, but he took them to their first-ever silverware by clinching the Leagues Cup trophy. Messi played 14 matches in his first season in America, scoring 11 times and providing five assists in all competitions.

Latest news

View all
Arrow to top