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. In this, the latest of our regular round-ups, we explain why the past week has brought relief for Lukas Podolski, delight for Rangers, and despair for Club Brugge and Thomas Baelum.
days had passed since Lukas Podolski's last Bundesliga goal when the Bayern Munich star finally ended his scoring drought on Saturday. The former FC Koln striker, voted Best Young Player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, had gone 21 goalless matches since netting on 11 March 2007 in a 1-1 draw against Werder Bremen, and his return to scoring form helped a below-par Bayern side claim an identical scoreline away to Nuremberg. Podolski, who last week declared himself "fed up with the Bayern subs' bench," once again made his entrance as a substitute, replacing Miroslav Klose, and his drought-ending equaliser was not the game's only statistic worth reflecting on. After all, by starting between the sticks, Oliver Kahn made his 552nd Bundesliga appearance, taking him level with former Werder and Schalke defender Klaus Fichtel as the third-most experienced player in the history of the German top flight.
days shy of his 40th birthday, Paolo Maldini, another of football's modern day legends, became the week's oldest goalscorer when he headed home against Atalanta at the San Siro. Unfortunately for the AC Milan captain, his attempt to lead by example proved insufficient to prevent the Rossoneri slumping to a 2-1 home defeat in which Andrea Pirlo missed a penalty and Alessandro Nesta saw red. At the other end of the age spectrum, meanwhile, Bojan Krkic was the youngest goalscorer for the second week in succession, although the youngster shared Maldini's misery as his Barcelona side conceded a two-goal lead to go down 3-2 at Real Betis.
years ago, on 3 May 1981, Club Brugge were beaten 5-1 at home by Anderlecht. In the time since, no team has managed to claim such a resounding victory at the Jan Breydel Stadium - until Sunday. Mid-table Racing Genk were the team to rewrite history, inflicting a crushing 6-2 defeat on their hosts and dealing another savage blow to the Brugges outfit's faltering bid for the Jupiler League title. While leaders Standard Liege extended to 28 matches their remarkable unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at Mechelen, Club Brugge slipped back to third, one point behind Anderlecht and ten adrift of the seemingly unstoppable Standard.
minutes was all it took for Deportivo La Coruna's Xisco to put Real Murcia to the sword with the week's fastest hat-trick. Enrique De Lucas had given Murcia the lead inside the opening two minutes but Deportivo's 21-year-old striker led their comeback with an equaliser on 23 minutes and had rounded off his hat-trick, and a 3-1 win, within three minutes of the second half kicking off. Other hat-trick heroes included Brann's Thorstein Helstad, Kostadin Hazurov of Bulgaria's Vidima-Rakovski and Veracruz's Claudio Graf, while special mention should go Ivan Cvetkov and Jan Novak, both of whom scored four in identical 4-0 wins for their respective clubs, Sivasspor and MFK Kosice.
this week proved unlucky for those chasing the leaders in Scotland, Georgia and Egypt, where Rangers, WIT Georgia Tbilisi and Al Ahly all extended their winning streaks. Of the victories that stretched these unblemished sequences to 13, the most significant came at Glasgow's Ibrox Stadium, where Rangers moved six points clear of arch-rivals Celtic with a narrow 1-0 win in a typically fraught and hard-fought Old Firm derby. With Walter Smith's side also holding a game in hand over the reigning champions, a 52nd Scottish league title for the blue half of Glasgow would appear closer than ever.
goals have been scored this season by Willem II's Thomas Baelum. Not a bad return for a defender, one might think, but this statistic becomes considerably less laudable when it is discovered that all three have come at the wrong end. By beating his own keeper once again in a 2-2 draw at Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday, the 29-year-old Dane became the first Eredivisie player to reach this unwanted landmark in 30 years. Those three decades have seen no fewer than 28 players, including the likes of Ajax legend Danny Blind, score two own goals in a single season, but Baelum can now lay claim to the dubious distinction of being the most unlucky player in the history of the Dutch top flight.