The month of April has been a gift from the gods for football fans around the world. It might seem a little far fetched, but if you take a look back on everything that has transpired over the past month, you might just agree. April had a plethora of some of the most high profile fixtures that club football had to offer us. Some of those included the nail biting Champions League quarter finals, the DFB cup semi-final between Bayern Munich and Dortmund, the Manchester Derby , two exhilarating FA cup semi-finals and the El Clasico. There were a few ‘off the pitch’ incidents too, which hogged the front pages of several newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
Here is the best of the best from the month of April.
10. End of the Fairy tale for Leicester City:
Leicester City’s dream run in the Champions League came to an end in April after they were knocked out by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, 2-1 on aggregate. The Foxes defied all the odds again this season, after a brilliant run in Europe.They topped their Champions League group and even pulled off a huge upset over Sevilla in the round of 16. However Atletico proved too much to handle, but Leicester did give them a run for their money in the second leg at the King Power Stadium. Sadly it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, Jamie Vardy and co. bow out of the Champions League with their heads held high.
9. Manchester derby marred by controversy
The two teams from Manchester met on 27th April with the race for the Champions league spots, firmly in the balance. The match ended up in a stalemate with both teams failing to break the deadlock. But the game will be remembered for an incident in the dying minutes, when Marouane Fellaini was sent off for headbutting Sergio Aguero. A careless and fairly stupid challenge which warranted nothing less than a straight red. Luckily for Fellaini, United did manage to hold on to the draw for the remainder of the game.
8. N’Golo Kante wins PFA player of the year
N’Golo Kante capped off a brilliant season for Chelsea by bagging the PFA player of the season award. The Frenchman has been instrumental in the Blue’s title march and was deservedly awarded the prize. Fellow teammate Eden Hazard came in 2nd place, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming in 3rd. Tottenham forward Dele Alli bagged the PFA Young player of the year after his exploits this season.
7. Bayern Munich knocked out of the DFB Cup
Borussia Dortmund pulled off a stunning comeback against Bayern Munich to advance to the finals of the DFB Pokal cup. Goals from Marco Reus, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and a late curler from Ousmane Dembele were enough to clinch Dortmund’s place in the final.
6. Judas Strikes back
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United defeated current league leaders and would be champions,Chelsea on 16th April. The match will be fondly remembered for Ander Herrera’s brilliant performance. The Spaniard effectively stifled the threat of Eden Hazard, while also coming up with an important goal and a sublime assist. It was a tactical masterclass by Mourinho, with Chelsea failing to produce a single shot on target. Judas has definitely got his revenge.
5. The Italian Wall
Juventus qualified for the Champions league semi-finals after they knocked out heavy favourites Barcelona. Paulo Dybala helped the Italian giants secure a crucial 3-0 victory in the first leg at Turin. Barcelona needed to replicate the performance against PSG if they stood any chance of going through. But Juventus aren’t considered the best defensive unit in the world for no reason. With Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Gianlugi Buffon at the back, even the great Lionel Messi had no answer.
4. John Terry to leave Chelsea
In the third week of April, John Terry announced that he would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season. After more than 20 years at the club, the Chelsea skipper will leave West-London with a host of team and individual honours to his name. Antonio Conte will have a hard time trying to replace this herculean figure next season. Farewell John, a true Chelsea legend and arguably the Premier League’s greatest defender.
3. Explosion at Dortmund
The 1st leg of the Champions league tie between Monaco and Dortmund had to be postponed due to an explosion that damaged the Dortmund team bus, leaving Marc Bartra injured. It was an incident which haunted the Dortmund faithful as they struggled to perform to their best during the subsequent fixture. On the bright side, we witnessed a classy gesture from the Dortmund fans when they offered accommodation for the stranded Monaco fans after the postponement of the first leg. Football is a beautiful game after all.
2. Robbery at Madrid
An absolutely enthralling fixture that will sadly be remembered for the awful match officiating on show. Make no mistake about it, the tie between Bayern and Real Madrid was everything we expected, and more. But it just has to be said. Bayern were robbed! Two offside goals, an unfair red card and a few contentious penalty appeals, was the difference between the two power houses of European football. Real Madrid would go on to win the tie 6-3 on aggregate with five goals from the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo.
1. 500 for Leo Messi
If there was ever a time to score your 500th career goal, it just had to be in the 92nd minute against your fiercest rivals, in the most watched game in world football. With that celebration to top it off, just wow! The El Clasico in April was one of the best in recent history. It had almost everything. Fantastic players on show, amazing goals, leg breaking challenges, touchline drama and the odd miss from Cristiano Ronaldo. But this game well and truly belonged to the greatest player in the world, Lionel Messi.