In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, league and match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is. That's why, every week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results.
Our latest review will make pleasant reading for admirers of Paul Scholes, Conor Casey and CFR Cluj, but with Bayern Munich and Celtic's woes also dissected, fans of the German and Scottish champions should perhaps look away now.
Premier League appearances was a milestone that, before Saturday, had only been reached by ten players. That was until Paul Scholes became No11, joining the illustrious likes of Alan Shearer and United team-mate Ryan Giggs in reaching this milestone by turning out in Manchester United's 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers. Gary Speed still holds the overall record, having chalked up 535 appearances during a 15-year top flight career, but Portsmouth goalkeeper David James - on 516 - is rapidly closing in. Giggs, meanwhile, lies third, just three short of the 500 mark, while Scholes' chances of moving up the rankings were dealt a blow last night when he picked up a knee injury in United's 3-0 win in Aalborg.
years ago, CFR Cluj were to be found languishing in Romania's third tier. Tonight, their meteoric rise will be capped when they host their first-ever UEFA Champions League match, welcoming the multi-millionaires of Chelsea to their Transylvanian home. The Romanian champions are also aiming to consolidate a position of strength in Group A, after they shocked Europe by beating Roma 2-1 on their debut in the continent's elite competition. The hero that night was Emmanuel Culio, one of seven Argentinians in a cosmopolitan Cluj squad that also includes players from Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Sweden, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Canada. In the blue corner, meanwhile, stands a Chelsea side bolstered by the return of Didier Drogba, back after serving a suspension for his red card in last season's final. The Ivorian striker has scored 23 Champions League goals since making his debut in the competition on 16 September 2003, a period during which only Ruud van Nistelrooy has proved more prolific.
games, one month and 11 days after his last goal, Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey made a spectacular return to scoring form on Saturday with a hat-trick in his team's thrilling 5-4 win at New York Red Bulls. A last-minute goal sealed the American striker's treble, clinching a victory that took the Rapids up to third in the Western Conference, six points behind leaders Houston Dynamo. With seven of its nine goals coming in the first half, the match came within a single strike of equalling the MLS record for goals in a half, set in 1996 during the second 45 of Kansas City's 6-4 victory over Columbus Crew. Casey, capped nine times for the US, was returning to the Rapids' starting line-up after being benched for their previous two matches.
wins, two draws and two defeats from their opening six matches in season 2008/09 adds up to the worst start Bayern Munich have made to a Bundesliga campaign in 31 years. Not since the Bavarian giants returned from their summer break in 1977 to stutter to one victory, three draws and two losses have they faced such an uphill task to claim the domestic title, and, as the older among their disgruntled fans will recall, that particular season ended with Bayern in 12th position. A repeat remains highly unlikely, of course, but there is no question that Jurgen Klinsmann is already under huge pressure to haul the reigning champions out of the mid-table mire in which they find themselves. As director of football Uli Hoeness put it: "Things can't go on like this at Bayern!"
point from a possible 48: that is the miserable away UEFA Champions League record Celtic wake up to this morning after going down 1-0 in Villarreal. The Scottish champions have reached the last 16 in their past two campaigns solely on the back of their results at Celtic Park, but a 0-0 home draw with Aalborg on Matchday 1 left them needing to finally smash their away jinx. That was always likely to prove a tall order at El Madrigal, however, where high-flying Villarreal are unbeaten in the Champions League and have lost only three of their last 35 European matches. It had also been four years since Celtic claimed that solitary Champions League point with a 1-1 draw in Barcelona, and Marcos Senna's 66th-minute free-kick ensured that the Bhoys' long wait for a win on the road continues for another month at least.
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