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Simeone, Loew or Ancelotti – who should win the 2014 FIFA Coach of the Year?

By Waddah Hassani

FIFA has announced its final shortlist for the 2014 FIFA Coach of the Year award and it was (sort of) what everyone was expecting it to be; it included Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, World Cup winner Joachim Loew and La Liga winner Diego Simeone.

Aside of the detailed statistical comparison provided, who deserves the award the most?

FIFA 2014 COTY Comparison

Carlo Ancelotti: Where do we start? The experienced Italian has literally done it all in 2014, from winning titles, matching records, breaking records, winning over the fans and locker room, to re-inventing players.

Lets start with the titles; Ancelotti has won three titles thusfar in 2014 in the shape of the famed La Decima, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Super Cup. This list is very likely to see an addition in the form of the Club World Cup, which Real Madrid will contest in late December.

So, with three titles in 2014, Carlo Ancelotti is the coach with the most tiles won between not just the final shortlist, but the entire 10-man list initially released by FIFA.

Carlo Ancelotti

He also ventured into the ‘record breaking’ path as he orchestrated Real Madrid’s longest winning streak ever in all competitions (currently stands at 17 wins), longest winning streak ever in the Copa del Rey (10 wins), most goals scored in one Champions League campaign (41 goals), being the fastest coach in Real Madrid’s history to reach 50 official wins, and if Los Blancos wins the CWC, he will also be the first coach in the club’s history to win four titles in one calendar year.

He also equaled Bob Paisley’s record of three European Cups won and in the process became the first and only coach to win three European Cups with two different clubs.

The former Chelsea chief has guided Real Madrid to the top of the La Liga table with 10 consecutive league wins and secured the first spot in Group B of this season’s Champions League thanks to winning all the team’s matches so far in the competition.

On top of all that, Ancelotti also ‘re-invented’ players like Di Maria, James, and Isco to better suit the dynamics of the team, which in part lead to them being better overall players themselves. Certainly an eventful year this has been for the Italian mastermind.

Joachim Loew: With Ancelotti you see a lot of records and achievements, but some may argue that all of these feats are not equal to what Joachim Loew has won in 2014; the World Cup.

Loew guided Germany to the World Cup title with consistent, entertaining, direct, and brutal football that ruthlessly destroyed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals; providing the biggest ever semi-final result in World Cup’s history and the South American nation’s biggest home defeat ever.

Joachim Loew

While many teams showed promise but eventually delivered below par performances, Loew’s Germany dominated with sheer consistency. They were on point throughout the tournament and deservedly won the title to prove it.

The World Cup is without a doubt the biggest title in world football so winning it in style surely can’t hurt your chances in winning the COTY award.

Diego Simeone: Quite possibly the ‘dark horse’ in this year’s COTY award race, Diego Simeone has to go up against a coach that has won more titles and broke more records than anyone else in 2014, and a coach who has won the grandest prize in football in the shape of the World Cup.

And what does he have to go against them? Just a La Liga title and the Supercopa with Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone

On the surface it might not seem enough, but once you realize that Simeone achieved this with a Vicente Calderon outfit that was battling relegation when he was first appointed, you will come to know the magnitude of his achievement.

He lifted Atletico to heights that saw them challenging the two Spanish powerhouses in the form of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and he actually beat them to the La Liga title. Something that hasn’t happened in a decade.

With a budget that pales in comparison to the Clasico giants, and with a squad that may lack the flair of traditional world-class players, Simeone relied on sheer hard work and discipline to battle through the opposition.

This eventually led Atletico to the final of the 2013/14 Champions League where he was just a 100 seconds away from winning the title, and a La Liga triumph that will surely go down in Spanish folklore as one of the most surprising upsets in league history.

On any other year, what Simeone has done might have been enough, but in 2014, with a Champions League winner and a World Cup winner; it may not be the safe to bet on the Argentine.

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When the underdog had its day – Recent World Cup and Euros shocks & surprises

ALGERIA – WORLD CUP 1982

Algeria shocked the giants of West Germany 2-1, one of their two victories in the group stage. However, they were denied qualification when Germany beat Austria 1-0 in controversial circumstances – the result conveniently allowed both teams to progress at the African nation’s expense. In subsequent tournaments, the final two games in each group have always been played simultaneously.

CAMEROON – WORLD CUP 1990

The first African country to reach a World quarter-final, Cameroon dramatically won the tournament’s first match, 1-0 against Argentina, despite having two players sent off. Then two goals from Roger Milla, accompanied by his unforgettable goal celebrations, saw them to a second round win over Colombia, setting up a quarter-final with England. Bobby Robson’s team were lucky to progress after equalising with a late penalty and sealing the match in extra time via another spot kick.

DENMARK – EURO 1992

Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable stories from any Euro finals. Many of the Danish players had departed on holiday when, at a few weeks notice, they were invited to compete in the finals following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Denmark began unremarkably, failing to score in their first two matches, but a 2-1 win over France saw them through to the semi-finals. A brace from Henrik Larsen gave them a 2-2 draw with an exceptionally strong Netherlands team, and Larsen was again on target in their successful penalty shoot-out. A 2-0 win over Germany completed the Danish fairytale.

BULGARIA – WORLD CUP 1994

This East European nation has only progressed beyond the group stage at a major tournament on one other occasion, but led by the talismanic Hristo Stoichkov, they reached the semi-finals here.

Hopes were not high following a 3-0 loss to Nigeria, but Stoichkov proceeded to score in every game thereafter. The victories over Argentina in the group stage and Germany in the quarter-final surely rank as the greatest occasions in Bulgarian football history. Their tournament ended with defeat to Italy in the last four. Stoichkov, with Barcelona at the time, was the joint winner of the tournament’s Golden Boot and was later crowned European Footballer of the Year for 1994.

SOUTH KOREA – WORLD CUP 2002

Co-hosts South Korea topped their group having beating Poland and Portugal, but they hadn’t finished making the headlines. A 2-1 round of 16 victory over Italy duly followed, however Ahn Jung-Hwan’s reward for scoring the winner was to be sacked by his Italian club Perugia!

The upsets continued as the Koreans beat Spain on penalties, before losing 1-0 to Germany in the last four. Park Ji-Sung, who has had an excellent career with Manchester United, was one of the players who sprung to prominence.

GREECE – EURO 2004

150-1 outsiders Greece shocked the footballing world by emerging as tournament winners in 2004. They scraped through the group stage, but then 1-0 wins over France, Czech Republic and Portugal took them to an unlikely title. Much of their success was built on a well-organised defence and the tactical expertise of their German coach Otto Rehhagel, but in Georgios Karagounis and Angelos Charisteas, Greece had two skilful players capable of mixing it with the best.

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