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 round-ups, we reflect on a record-breaking transfer in the Netherlands and a nine-second goal in Brazil and the age-defying passion of the new Fenerbahce coach.
years on from taking up his first coaching post and with less than two weeks until he turns 70, Luis Aragones would be forgiven for bidding a fond farewell to a game to which he has devoted over half-a-century. It is, however, the ultimate testament to the veteran Spaniard's enduring hunger that, rather than bow out on a high after leading his country to their first major trophy in 44 years, he has opted to take on one of the most demanding jobs in club football. Aragones does, after all, now have the hopes and dreams of an estimated 30 million fervent Fenerbahce fans resting on his shoulders after signing a two-year contract with the Turkish giants on Saturday. Adding to the intrigue is that, while this is the 15th new project Aragones has taken on since starting out in coaching with Atletico Madrid in 1974, it is the first time he has worked outside his native country.
million euros is the fee with which Ajax smashed the Dutch transfer record on Friday to sign Heerenveen's Miralem Sulejmani. Heerenveen have made a profitable habit of developing and then selling on star strikers, from Ruud van Nistelrooy (6.4 million euros to PSV in 1998), through the previous record holder, Klaas Jan Huntelaar (9 million to Ajax in 2005), to Afonso Alves, who cost Middlesbrough 16.1 million euros in February. Sulejmani now tops this illustrious list, with Marco van Basten having identified the 19-year-old Serbian international as his top transfer target. The former Partizan Belgrade striker replaced Alves as Heerenveen's attacking fulcrum last season and enjoyed a superb campaign, scoring 16 goals to earn the Johan Cruyff award for the Dutch top flight's 'Talent of the Year'.
goals in 12 Eliteserien matches have thrust Thorstein Helstad to the top of the Norwegian scoring charts. The 31-year-old Brann striker bolstered his tally for the season with a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-1 win over Bodo/Glimt, a result that took the Bergen outfit to within five points of leaders Stabaek. Helstad, who scored 64 goals for Brann between 1998 and 2002 before departing for spells with Austria Vienna and Rosenborg, returned in June 2006, finishing Eliteserien top scorer in the first full season of his second stint. Indeed, the Norway international's goals propelled the club to its first league championship since 1963, and if Brann are to retain their title, the smart money would be on Helstad once again proving a pivotal figure.
seconds was all it took for Vitoria's Dinei to shatter Portuguesa's run of successive clean sheets, which had stretched back three matches prior to Sunday's 2-1 defeat. The Vitoria No9's lightning-fast opener, scored with his first touch, was the club's 800th Brasileiro goal, and it took him to within a second of matching the competition's fastest-ever strike. As it is, that honour remains with Nivaldo, who struck after just eight seconds for Nautico in their 3-2 win over Atletico Mineiro in 1989. Yet while Dinei will have to be satisfied with the Brazilian top flight's second-fastest goal, he can at least draw comfort from the fact that he has contributed impressively to a run of three straight wins that has propelled newly-promoted Vitoria into the league's top four.