In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. This, the latest of our round-ups, highlights the good in Standard Liege, Steaua Bucharest and Predrag Djordjevic, the bad in Gregoor van Dijk and the downright ugly at Pride Park and the Mestalla.
years ago, Union achieved the remarkable feat of going through an entire Belgian Jupiler League campaign without tasting defeat. Such was their dominance during that era, in fact, that Union went an incredible 60 matches unbeaten between 1932 and 1935. By comparison, Standard Liege's current running tally of 30 league fixtures might seem modest, but with just four matchdays remaining in season 2007/08, the Belgian champions-elect are at least on the verge of emulating Union's unblemished top-flight campaign. Michel Preud'homme's side - seven points clear of Anderlecht at the league's summit - closed in on this long-held record on Friday with a 0-0 draw away to Lokeren that edges the in-form Belgians yet closer to a first league championship since 1983.
minutes was all Predrag Djordjevic required to single-handedly demolish Xanthi with the week's fastest hat-trick. The long-serving Olympiacos stalwart, who has been with the Athens club for the past 12 seasons, struck three times between minutes 38 and 52 to edge the Greek Super League leaders nearer to a fourth successive title. Djordjevic, 35, has already won ten Greek championships - a feat never before managed by a foreign player - and is very much at home in his adopted homeland, having obtained citizenship and married a Greek woman. And with Olympiacos two points clear of AEK Athens and four ahead of Panathinaikos, his 11th league title may be just round the corner.
straight victories have propelled Steaua Bucharest back to the summit of Romania's Liga 1 and thrown into jeopardy CFR Cluj's hopes of ending the capital clubs' epic stranglehold on the league title. Between them, Steaua, Rapid and Dinamo Bucharest boast a remarkable 88 Romanian championships, yet for a time it seemed that CFR, a little-known club from Transylvania, were in line to become the first side since Universitatea Craiova in 1991 to take the title away from this dominant trio. As it is, Steaua's impressive run of wins, the latest of which arrived on Monday with a 4-0 drubbing of bottom side Universitatea Cluj-Napoca, has returned the Roş-Albaştrii to a familiar position atop of the standings, leaving them on the brink of a 24th top-flight title.
red cards have combined to make Gregoor van Dijk an Eredivisie record-breaker for all the wrong reasons. Prior to Sunday's visit to De Graafschap, the Utretcht defensive midfielder shared the record for dismissals in the Dutch top flight with six other players, but the 26-year-old came into his own when he received his marching orders in a 1-1 draw against a team struggling to stave off relegation. Though a firm favourite at Utrecht, this is far from the first time Van Dijk's fiery temperament has proven his downfall; in 2006, he was banned for five matches for kicking Wesley Sneijder in the face as the then Ajax midfielder lay grounded.
unanswered Aston Villa goals on Saturday left Derby County on the receiving end of the second-worst defeat in English Premier League history. Not since Nottingham Forest capitulated 8-1 to Manchester United on 6 February 1999 has a top-tier club been beaten so resoundingly on their own patch, with six separate Villa players - Stilian Petrov, Gareth Barry, Marlon Harewood, John Carew, Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor - on target for Martin O'Neill's rampant side. The result also equalled Derby County's biggest-ever home defeats in the English top flight: 7-1 to Manchester City and Liverpool in 1938 and 1991 respectively. And do not be surprised to see more unwelcome records for Paul Jewell's side, who remain firmly on course to finish with the lowest points tally and worst goal difference in Premier League history.
wins: that is the sum total of Valencia's efforts in 16 matches at the Mestalla this season. Los Che might have thought it could not get any worse when they went into Saturday's visit of Racing Santander with just 16 points from their opening 15 matches; after all, never before had they reached that stage of the season with such a miserly tally. Yet it was the ultimate measure of just how vulnerable Ronald Koeman's side are now seen to be on their own patch that no great surprise greeted Racing emerging with a 2-1 victory, a result that left their hosts just five points above the relegation zone. Only bottom club Levante have a worse home record in La Liga this season and a significant reversal in fortunes is needed if Valencia are to avoid eclipsing their previous worst home record: five wins, nine draws and three losses in season 1984/85.