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 week's review is a particularly star-studded affair, with some of the highest-profile figures in the men and women's game making headlines along with beach soccer's leading marksman.
fans, Major League Soccer's highest attendance of the season, turned out at New York's Giants Stadium on Saturday to watch New York Red Bulls play host to David Beckham's LA Galaxy. They were treated to a thrilling match from which Galaxy only just escaped with a draw, Landon Donovan salvaging a point in injury time with a cross-cum-shot that eluded everyone to end up in the net. With Red Bulls averaging crowds of 13,525, this unusually impressive turnout merely reaffirmed that the US top flight's 'Beckham experiment' has proved a notable success, with the former England captain's last visit to Giants Stadium having drawn an even larger crowd of 66,237. Average attendances are certainly at their highest level since the MLS's first season and, at a nationwide level, have even reached a level of parity with basketball's NBA and ice hockey's NHL.
AC Milan season tickets sold in a single day provided a timely reminder that, for all Ronaldinho's recent disappointments, his box office appeal remains as strong as ever. That figure is put in perspective by the fact that the Rossoneri had sold little over 13,000 during the entire summer prior to Ronnie touching down at the San Siro last Wednesday. Milan have also reported more than ten times the average daily volume of visitors to their official website since news of the 28-year-old's transfer first broke. Ronaldinho has signed a three-year contract with the reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions, who have reportedly paid Barcelona 18.5 million euros for the Brazilian's signature.
goals in 126 internationals is the incredible career tally that underlines the extent of the Abby Wambach-shaped void that has been left in USA's women's Olympic side. The Americans' prolific striker was ruled out of Beijing 2008 last Wednesday when she suffered a double leg-break in a friendly meeting with Brazil, and has since underwent successful surgery to have a titanium rod inserted. Wambach, who turned 28 last month, is the US women's leading scorer this year with 13 goals and only needs another five to overtake both Tiffeny Milbrett and Michelle Akers in the team's all-time scoring list. Mia Hamm, who managed 158 goals in 275 internationals between 1987 and 2004, still leads the way, while Kristine Lilly - also missing from Pia Sundhage's Beijing squad - sits second on 129.
career goals is the latest landmark to have been reached by Rogerio Ceni after the Sao Paulo keeper set his side on the road to a 2-1 victory over Botafogo on Sunday. Ceni, who hadn't scored since 6 April, slotted home a 34th-minute penalty to open the scoring at the Morumbi, laying the foundations for a win that consigned Sao Paulo's visitors to a less welcome milestone of their own. Botafogo have, after all, now gone over ten months since their last away win in the Brasileiro, which ironically came in Sao Paulo against Corinthians on 16 September 2007. This latest defeat left the Rio outfit precariously close to the drop zone, just five points clear of bottom side Ipatinga, while Sao Paulo's win took the defending champions up to fifth, three points behind faltering leaders Flamengo.
goals at the ongoing FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, including five in Portugal's thumping 13-4 victory over the Solomons Islands, has taken Madjer to within a single strike of reaching the half-century mark at beach soccer's global showpiece. The 31-year-old, the competition's all-time leading goalscorer, claimed the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball awards at the 2005 and 2006 editions to firmly establish himself as his discipline's pre-eminent player. When, however, he was beaten to both these awards by Brazil's Buru last year, there were whispers that his time at the pinnacle might have reached a natural conclusion. There has, though, been precious little evidence of a player on the slide at Marseille 2008, with Madjer reminding everyone of his remarkable array of attributes by firing Portugal into the quarter-finals - and himself to a familiar position atop the tournament's scoring charts.