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.
The resumption of preliminaries for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ naturally figures prominently in this week's review, with Uruguay and Sweden's tales of woe contrasting starkly with the amazing achievements of Australia's defence and Burkina Faso's free-scoring talisman. Yet it would be amiss of us not to kick things off with the one number everyone in football is talking about...
million euros is the fee that this week made Kaka the second-most expensive footballer in history. Zinedine Zidane still holds the number one spot, with Real Madrid having parted with 75.8 million euros to prise the French maestro from Juventus on 9 June 2001. Indeed, Kaka's new club have now been responsible for the three biggest transfers of all time, with Luis Figo's 61.3-million-euro switch from Barcelona in 2000 taking third place on the podium. Though comparisons with Zidane are inevitable, Kaka - who eclipses Ronaldo (45 million euros) as the most expensive Brazilian of all time - played down suggestions he would take on Zizou's famous No5 shirt. "I'll take my time choosing it and I'll respect the numbers," he said. "I'm grateful for the five [suggestion], but Zidane is Zidane. I'm going to try and write my own history."
minutes: this is the time at which Moumouni Dagano seemingly takes it upon himself to come alive in FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The prolific Burkina Faso striker, top scorer in the African Zone with ten goals from just eight appearances, has notched all seven of his most recent strikes between the 55th and 80th minutes. On Saturday, the 28-year-old was the Burkinabe's match-winner once again, grabbing the decisive goal in a 1-0 win in Malawi that kept the Stallions joint-top of Group E - and left Dagano three clear of Benin's Razak Omotoyossi and four ahead of Messrs Eto'o and Kanoute.
years after contesting their maiden FIFA World Cup qualifier, Uruguay slumped to their heaviest-ever home defeat in preliminary competition on Saturday. La Celeste, whose prior record showed just six losses in over 50 years of qualifying history, went down to an emphatic 4-0 defeat at the hands of a ruthlessly efficient Brazil side. The result, which also represented A Seleção's joint-third-biggest away win in FIFA World Cup preliminaries, was certainly not an outcome that anyone could have foreseen. Brazil had, after all, won only thrice in their previous 28 visits to their southerly neighbours.
consecutive clean sheets: this miserly defensive record is the foundation on which Australia's successful South Africa 2010 qualification was built. The Socceroos, who will be represented at successive FIFA World Cups for the first time, have now gone 619 minutes since conceding, with Saturday's 0-0 draw in Qatar their ninth shutout of a remarkable qualifying campaign. Mark Schwarzer has kept goal for 540 of those unbeaten minutes, with Michael Petkovic the man between the sticks when China PR's Sun Xiang became the last player to breach the Aussie rearguard on 22 June 2008.
is a number that is becoming painfully familiar to Sweden fans, who have watched their team fail to score in four of their opening five South Africa 2010 qualifiers. It is now exactly nine months since Kim Kallstrom and Samuel Holmen scored the Swedes' most recent preliminary goals in a 2-1 victory over Hungary, and their impotent subsequent form has left Lars Lagerback's side in a decidedly precarious position in Group 1. Saturday's 1-0 defeat by Denmark, a team against whom Lagerback had never lost in five previous encounters, left the Blågult languishing fourth, ten points adrift of their Nordic neighbours and seven behind second-placed Hungary. Surprising enough from a team who have advanced beyond the group stage at three of the last four FIFA World Cups, this miserable goalless sequence is doubly baffling given the combined striking talents of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander and Henrik Larsson. As it is, Ibrahimovic - who topped the Serie A scoring charts with 25 goals this season - needs to look back 361 days for his last strike in a yellow jersey.