In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet 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, each week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results.
In this first review of the new year, we look at some early activity in the transfer window as well as highlighting the runs being protected by Rennes, Inter Milan and Barcelona, and the return of a famous name to the Derby County dugout.
million Euros for Real Madrid new boys Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra is the outlay that, just one week into the transfer window, has belied claims that this will be a frugal January. Nor has the frosty current financial climate prevented Tottenham Hotspur from paying £15 million for a player, in Jermaine Defoe, whom they sold for less than two-thirds of that price less than a year ago. Manchester City have also splashed the cash, shelling out £10 million for Chelsea's reserve left-back Wayne Bridge, and the next few weeks are sure to contain yet more headline-grabbing deals as clubs seek a timely mid-season boost.
and-a-half years after the late, great Brian Clough began overseeing the most successful era in Derby County's history, the Rams have appointed his son, Nigel, as their latest manager. Clough Snr, who passed away in 2004, led the Midlands outfit to a first-ever top flight title in 1972 and onwards to a European Cup semi-final before departing for even greater glories at Nottingham Forest. Yet the challenge for Nigel is considerably more modest. Indeed, although his first day in the job will end with a League Cup semi-final against Manchester United this evening, the most pressing task for the 42-year-old - who has spent the last 10 years in charge of non-league Burton Albion - will be to drag Derby from the lower reaches of England's second tier.
Ligue 1 matches without defeat is the remarkable record that Rennes will be protecting when they resume their top flight campaign on Saturday at home to Grenoble. The Breton outfit have gone almost five months without losing a league match, their last and only defeat of this season having come on 17 August - ironically, away to Grenoble. The only reason, in fact, that Rennes are not topping the table at the resumption of Ligue 1 hostilities is that 10 of their other 18 fixtures this season have ended in draws, leaving Guy Lacombe's side in third, four points off leaders Lyon.
wins, two draws and a solitary defeat have left Barcelona on course for the greatest season in the history of the Spanish top flight. By coming from behind to beat Real Mallorca 3-1 on Saturday, the Catalan giants equalled a record set 48 years ago when arch-rivals Real Madrid started season 1960/61 with exactly the same set of results. This time around, the capital club sit a distant third, 12 points behind a Barcelona team who equalled another of Real Madrid's 48-year-old records in their previous match by winning a seventh successive away match in La Liga.
consecutive wins have propelled Inter Milan to a position of strength in Serie A, and the reigning champions will attempt to reinforce their grip on the title when they play host to Cagliari on Saturday. After a sticky start to his tenure at the San Siro, Jose Mourinho has instilled a dogged determination that has seen Inter through a series of tough fixtures - and taken them six points clear of Juventus. Indeed, in the 185 domestic leagues analysed, only AS Tefana of French Polynesia and Iraqi side Arbil currently boast a better winning record than the Nerazzurri.