In FIFA.com’s first stats review of 2012, we reflect on impressive sequences from Celtic and Tottenham Hotspur, a championship for Universidad de Chile, fluctuating fortunes at Brisbane Roar and an unprecedented comeback for Jose Mourinho.
Chilean league titles was the landmark reached by Universidad de Chile on Thursday as one of the club’s most successful seasons was rounded off in style. A trio of goals inside 35 minutes secured a 3-0 home win over Cobreloa after a goalless draw in the first leg of the Clausura final, adding this championship to the Apertura crown won earlier in the season. La U duly became the first Chilean club to win both titles in the same calendar year since 2007, and strengthened their position as their country’s second-most successful team behind 29-time champions Colo Colo. Last year also witnessed continental success come the way of the Santiago outfiit, who earlier in December won the first Copa Sudamericana of their history, with their now-former striker Eduardo Vargas setting a new competition scoring record with a haul of 11 goals.
wins from their first 19 matches have given Tottenham Hotspur their best start to a league season in over 50 years. The only time Spurs have ever started a campaign better, in fact – when they had 17 wins at this stage of the 1960/61 season – they went on to finish the season as champions. The north London outfit are also enjoying their best scoring streak of the Premier League era, having found the net at least once in their last 18 top-flight fixtures. Yet while Harry Redknapp’s team have emerged as genuine title contenders, they still trail a Manchester City side who last night won their 15th successive home league match, taking them to within another victory of their best-ever run, set back in 1921. Over a year has now passed since Roberto Mancini’s side last lost on their own patch, with 29 matches having been negotiated since a 2-1 defeat by Everton on 20 December 2010.
straight league wins have enabled Celtic to turn a 15-point deficit into a two-point lead in the race for the Scottish title. Just as impressive as this 17-point turnaround is the fact that it has been achieved inside the space of two months, with the Bhoys leapfrogging old rivals Rangers thanks to their most consistent run of form so far under manager Neil Lennon. Key to Celtic’s revival has been the transformation of a defence that, having been the club’s Achilles’ heel in the early part of the season, has now conceded just three goals in ten matches, keeping clean sheets in six of their last seven. Among the teams shut out were Rangers themselves, beaten 1-0 last Wednesday in a typically passionate Old Firm derby made even more frenetic by winds that peaked at 90 mph.
straight losses was the run arrested by Brisbane Roar on Saturday as the reigning A-League champions came from a goal down to beat Melbourne Victory 3-1. While five defeats on the bounce might not seem particularly extraordinary, the sequence raised plenty of eyebrows Down Under, coming as it did on the back of the Roar’s record-breaking run of 36 matches unbeaten. The past week also witnessed a first A-League win in seven weeks for Adelaide United, who climbed off the foot of the table with a 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix.
goals down is a position from which a Jose Mourinho team had never fought back to win – until last night. Real Madrid’s 3-2 comeback victory over Malaga ripped up that particular statistic, with Mourinho left indebted to his striking duo Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. Benzema’s winner was his 49th goal in Real colours, taking the former Lyon star level with the final tally of Los Merengues’ most famous Frenchman, Zinedine Zidane. Higuain, meanwhile, continued an outstanding run against Malaga, scoring his ninth goal in just six appearances against Los Boquerones.