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.
As many domestic seasons edge closer to a climax, this week's review looks at the dramatic finales beckoning in Belgium and Germany, while also paying tribute to Porto, Guingamp and Internacional's Nilmar for their eye-catching exploits.
years after Le Havre became the last and, until Saturday, only Ligue 2 side to win the French Cup, a new fairy tale was written at the Stade de France. The authors on this occasion were little Guingamp, 13th in the second tier and hailing from a Brittany commune with a population of just over 8,000. With Breton rivals Rennes cast as hapless victims, the role of hero fell to Eduardo, whose late double sealed an unforgettable 2-1 win - and a place in next season's UEFA Europa League. More importantly, the Brazilian's brace secured the first domestic trophy of Guingamp's 98-year history, erasing the memories of their closest previous brush with glory: a heartbreaking defeat on penalties in the 1997 French Cup final.
wins, five draws and five defeats each for Anderlecht and Standard Liege have set up an enthralling final weekend in Belgium's Jupiler League. With Les Mauves et Blancs and Les Rouches tied together on 74 points, a two-legged play-off could yet be required to produce a champion should the two contenders achieve the same result in their last fixtures against Genk and Gent respectively. Since the introduction of the single-division format in 1900, only five Belgian championships have been decided in this way, with Anderlecht winning the most recent of them in 1986.
touches in 11 seconds by Nilmar conjured up one of the goals of 2009 on Sunday. The former Lyon forward, who now plies his trade with Internacional, weaved his way past five Corinthians players en route to a memorable solo effort against his former club. The goal, which brought to an end O Timão's 26-game unbeaten run at the Pacaembu stadium, was all the sweeter for Nilmar as he had had spent two years at Corinthians prior to an acrimonious exit in 2007. For the sought-after 24-year-old, the goal had added significance, too, coming as it did on Brazil's Mother's Day. "This goal was for my mother," he said afterwards. "It's funny because she's never asked me to score a goal for her, but we talked before the game and this time she asked for one."
championships: that represented the sum total of Porto's efforts for the first 50 years of the Portuguese Liga. Yet although this title tally appeared paltry in comparison to Benfica's (26) at the same stage of the league's development, the years since have witnessed a spectacular transformation. In clinching the 2008/09 league title on Sunday, Porto celebrated their fourth championship in as many years and their 17th in the past 24 seasons. This remarkable run of success has taken Os Dragões past Sporting as the Liga's second-most successful club (24 titles to 18) and left the northern outfit just seven titles short of catching Benfica.
goals against Wolfsburg on Saturday took Mario Gomez to the top of the German scoring charts and set new club record. Never before had a Stuttgart player racked up 23 goals in a single season, with Fritz Walter's 22-goal haul in the 1991/92 season the previous benchmark. As well as surpassing legendary Stuttgart predecessors such as Walter, Jurgen Klinsmann and Giovane Elber, Gomez also became just the fifth Bundesliga player since 2000 to score four in a single match, following Bart Goor, Elber, Martin Petrov and Kevin Kuranyi. The 23-year-old, who has been linked with Barcelona, Inter Milan and several English Premier League sides, certainly ensured a thrilling finale to the season, not only in the race for the title, but also in the battle to finish as top scorer. Wolfsburg's 4-1 defeat left them locked together with Bayern Munich on 60 points and their star striker Grafite tied with Gomez on 23 goals. Although the Brazilian re-established a one-goal advantage by scoring in last night's 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, Gomez has a chance to draw level - or perhaps even move in front - when Stuttgart travel to Schalke this evening.