Technically, the season isn't quite over -- we've still got Spain's Copa del Rey final this weekend, and the Brazilian season keeps on going like Energizer -- but I posted one final World Power Rankings for 2006-07 on Thursday to close up shop.
Believe it or not, I don't have Fox Sports en Español at home, so I had to out to watch Boca Juniors smash Grêmio in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final. And as I watched Juan Román Riquelme (at right) have his moment of glory, it occurred to me how similar his resurgence this season follows that of another certain soccer icon, David Beckham.
• Both stepped down as captains following their national teams' disappointing bows out of the quarterfinals in last summer's World Cup and were essentially the poster boys for their squads' shortcomings.
• Both were rejected by their clubs upon their returns from Germany: Beckham by Real Madrid, Riquelme by '05-06 Champions League semifinalist Villarreal.
• As their clubs needed them more, they were called upon in crunch time (Riquelme was loaned to Boca, his first club, for the season). Both then became inspirational in helping their clubs win trophies that had eluded them for four years.
• Both are now key figures again on their national teams.
Beckham was left for dead by new head coach Steve McClaren; now he's being hailed as the tonic that will get England into the European Championship. Meanwhile, his recent resurgence has everyone bemoaning his move to Major League Soccer.
Riquelme vowed he'd never play for Argentina again. On Thursday, he was summoned by new head coach Alfio Basile onto his country's Copa América roster (which, by the way, if you're a U.S. fan, is a terrifying read). Meanwhile, Boca fans are screaming for club president Mauricio Macri to find the cash to hold onto their inspirational leader, and Villarreal has leverage in moving Riquelme for top dollar.
And in case anyone's wondering, here's my final 10 for the year (remember, trophy-winners only):
1. AC Milan
2. Boca Juniors
3. Manchester United
4. Real Madrid
6. Inter Milan
9. AS Roma