May 23rd, 2011
02:35 PM ET

Pinto's picks: The European season in hindsight

Barcelona's stars lived up to their pre-season billing by claiming a third straight Spanish title.
Barcelona's stars lived up to their pre-season billing by claiming a third straight Spanish title.

Every time you make a prediction, you run the risk of looking like a genius or an idiot.

Back in August of last year, I looked into my crystal ball and tried to forecast what would happen in Europe’s major leagues this season. So now it's time to recap the action, see what were the big stories and what I got right and wrong.


Manchester United won 18 of their 19 home games on the way to a record 19th Premier League title. Their dismal away form was not a factor as no other team was consistent enough to challenge Sir Alex Ferguson’s well assembled squad.

Told you so:
Before the season, I predicted United would be crowned champions and Arsenal would again finish empty-handed. Unless Arsene Wenger is ready to change his philosophy and tactics, the Gunners are heading nowhere fast.

I really thought Roy Hodgson would do well at Liverpool but he was very disappointing at Anfield. I actually had the Reds finishing ahead of Chelsea in the standings. Despite a late revival under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool never threatened to finish in the top four.

Biggest surprise:
How did West Ham stick with Avram Grant when everyone I talk to in the world of football says he is the most uninspiring manager around? They had a decent squad and had infinitely more potential than they showed this year, winning only seven matches all season.


Make it three titles in a row for Barcelona as they add another case to the argument that they are the best team of all time. Leo Messi was once again fantastic as the Catalans played the best football of any side this season and comfortably won the league ahead of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid Galacticos.

Told you so:
I had Barca winning the title and Atletico Madrid underachieving. Happy to say I got both of those predictions right!

I thought Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t hit the back of the net as often as the previous season, since I expected more players to share the load. Needless to say I was completely wrong about that as he set a new record with 40 goals in La Liga.

Biggest surprise:
Deportivo going down. Obviously the Galician side had struggled in recent times, failing to qualify for Europe since 2004, but I still believed they had enough talent to finish out of the drop zone. They didn’t and will play in the second division for the first time in two decades.


AC Milan win their first title in seven years in Maximiliano Allegri’s first season at the San Siro. The Rossoneri ended their rivals’ Inter Milan stranglehold on the Serie A crown - the Nerazzuri had won the last five Scudettos.

Told you so:
Rafael Benitez was always going to struggle to follow in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho. Instead of keeping faith with the tactics that had worked so well for so many seasons, the Spaniard tried to put his stamp on the team and it backfired. The first signs of trouble emerged during the early defeat to Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup. After watching this match I predicted Rafa wouldn’t last long at the San Siro, and I was right.

I had forecast that AC Milan would be too old to win the Scudetto but I was completely wrong about that. Their veteran players, like Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta, once again showed their worth and helped guide the Rossoneri to first place.

Biggest surprise:
Udinese trumped the likes of Juventus and Lazio to take the final Champions League spot. With Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez coming of age and captain Antonio Di Natale topping the scoring charts once again, the Bianconeri finished fourth thanks to a draw on the final day of the season.


Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2002, eclipsing powerhouses Bayern Munich who failed to live up to expectations. A run of 14 wins in 15 games allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to take a big lead at the top of the standings, and his young players showed surprising maturity and class to hang onto first place.

Told you so:
While many people thought Schalke would challenge for honors this season, I was never convinced that would be the case. Their midfield was very poor and Felix Magath has always had a reputation for burning out his players with his intense management style. Raul had a good season, and obviously the club had a great run in the Champions League to reach the semifinals, but never had any kind of consistency in the Bundesliga.

I predicted Bayern would win the title again considering the fantastic season they had in 2010, but a combination of injuries to key players and tactical mistakes by Louis Van Gaal - who paid with the loss of his job - meant the Bavarians barely managed to finish third.

Biggest surprise:
There were so many unexpected twists and turns in the Bundesliga campaign with Hanover and Mainz qualifying for Europe and Werder Bremen finishing in the bottom half of the table, but I have to go with Dortmund winning the title. Considering they had so many young players, I thought they would crumble under the pressure, but that did not happen and they deserve plenty of plaudits for their achievement

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soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Pete

    In Italy they arerespectively called Milan and Internationale, much as Liverpool and Everton can be distinguished seperately. Why this insistence on calling them Inter Milan, some respect pleae, the Inter fans hate it.

    May 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  2. JC

    Why didnt you talk about Portugal??
    Are you a SLBenfica supporter who thought you would win eveything, and ended empty???

    May 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  3. yahya buba

    Please winger live arsenal along we are the sporter of arsenal always everthing hppen to you are cosa that why we need charge cotch.

    May 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  4. Obeng Gideon

    Doh, Josee Morinnyo is a good manager there is no way he can win the La Liga with Real Madrid, whiles Messi is in Barcelona,he should forget of winning the trophy until they buy Messi out of contract to play for them.Barcelona ALL the WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply

    Why is it that there is no comment on Português League..Meanwhile,l predicted Porto to win and l was right..but l do thing Barcelona didn't deserve to be in Champion Leage Final because,the Winning against Arsenal and Madrid was as a result of poor judgment from the Ref and Politic played by the UEFA body..Though,that behavour is very bad for Football,Moreover,Viewer are not happy for those cheat..Please UEFA next season solidify your action/judgment and be transparent ..

    May 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  6. Tugact

    Sr. Pinto
    You should clean your crystal ball, cause you can only see England, Italy, Germany and Spain. There is more Europe.......

    May 24, 2011 at 1:39 am | Reply
  7. Isaac Essuman

    Way to go Pedro,this season has been fantastic filled with many suprises.I wish to see total football from Man.u and Barca.but in the end I think Man u will carry the day.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:02 am | Reply
  8. Oriaku


    May 24, 2011 at 10:34 am | Reply
  9. fernando mendes

    A grande surpresa foi o F.C.Porto...o resto é letra.Vê-se que não és portista,deves estar com azia.Saudações desportivas

    May 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  10. john

    dont u think bercelona is d best club presently in the world but u dont want to admit.they play better football than anyother club @ d moment i dont know about 2moro maybe things will change 2 another club,so pls admit nobody cheated any other team for bercelona.they deserve every victory @ d moment,try not 2 be biased pls.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • Name*

      face facts barca are cheaters, first chelsea, then arsenal then against madrid- man u fans need to be worried if they're gonna be playing agaist the ref as well.and what shameless diving- even messi got in on the act .he looked mortaly wounded when carvalho tried to get him to stand!-and people say ronaldo is a cheat, geuss what messi is no better

      May 27, 2011 at 8:05 am | Reply
  11. DANIEL


    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  12. Jimmyjkjnr

    Very well said, Pedro. what then are your predictions on the barca manu finale? i am for barca tho

    May 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  13. ArsForEver

    Porky Pinto picks pies!

    May 25, 2011 at 3:38 am | Reply
  14. jean-marc

    The "European" season in hindsight??? I guess the likes of Portugal, France and Scotland aren't part of Europe. Or is it that there is absolutely nothing worth saying about them?

    May 25, 2011 at 5:47 am | Reply
  15. Kevin O

    There was that other 'insignificant bit' about Chelsea routing ManU on its way to loftily lifting the Champion's League trophy up high...conveniently forgotten, no? Guess that's another Doh for you. But to be fair, not all predictions are always right. I mean, even Paul the Octopus could not predict his own death..

    Otherwise, interesting articles the entire season. Keep it up.

    May 25, 2011 at 11:45 am | Reply
  16. boka

    Where's French league? And PT league? Next time try to squeeze them into ur cristal ball 🙂 ĆAO!

    May 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  17. jaime aka chamuko

    PURO FCBARCELONA PUTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  18. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Barça and Manchester United have been brilliant throughout the ongoing season. Wishing the two sides and football fans top class entertainment during this evening's summit clash.

    May 28, 2011 at 8:50 am | Reply
  19. Luiz Eduardo Santos from São Paulo - Brazil

    I've seen the best football match of the year. Besides I'm a Corinthians fan I'm want Santos team win Copa Libertadores to play against Barcelona at World Clubs Championship.
    Messi versus Neymar or Argentine vs. Brasil. It wil be great, I wait!

    May 29, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
  20. Odney

    Congratulations Barcelona !!! Thank u for showing us that "the beautiful game" is still alive and can still carry the day. As a fan I totally enjoy that classic total football and looking forward to seeing the team for their summer tour in the US.

    May 29, 2011 at 5:17 am | Reply
  21. Pinto da Costa

    I would like to know which team did you pick to win the Portuguese League, I guess I don´t need to know, what I do know is that you got it all wrong and now you have a big red pair of horns.

    May 29, 2011 at 11:20 am | Reply
  22. ogabo alexander

    jose mourinho is the best football manager in the world, if not for him Barcelona would have clean all cleanable, people should stop criticising him deploying his tactics against barcelona, for nobody except him was able to take something against barcelon in the best two season while at internationel and now at madrid, he is the best and managers should learn from him when playing barcelona and stop this rubish philosophy of football not never work for them when face with BARCA.

    May 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  23. Emanuel Ngoyo

    Well, Pedro Pinto, in case you don't remember FC Porto won the Europa League, and all the rest. It was, after Barcelona, the most incredible team in Europe. Even Gaurdiola talks about them. So, for a journalist, is truly shameful that you can't be independent. Because, last year, there were plenty of articles from you in CNN about Benfica. And... they only won the Portuguese Championship with a narrow margin to Braga in the last day of the league. But you were enthusiastic, out of control, completely alucinated with Benfica show team. You wrote, and wrote and your pen was always ready to acuse Porto of cheating the years before. But this year you can't avoid to feel nauseas with Porto success.

    May 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  24. Martijn Vochteloo

    Hello Mr. Pinto,
    In your article, you write that Rafa would not last long in San Siro. However, although Internazionale and AC Milan share the same stadium, they both use a different name for it. For Inter the stadium is called Giusseppe Meazza. For AC Milan the stadium is called San Siro.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Reply

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