Danish prodigy Martin Odegaard and Welsh icon Ryan Giggs star in FIFA.com’s latest stats review, which also reflects on landmark triumphs for Atletico Madrid and Benfica, and an unusual semi-final line-up in the Copa Libertadores.
appearances, 13 English championships and two UEFA Champions League titles were the incredible tallies on which Ryan Giggs ended his playing career on Monday. The Manchester United legend, who will continue at the club as assistant-manager to Louis van Gaal, also made 64 appearances for Wales, and scored 180 times for club and country. His haul of league titles is particularly impressive, and is superior to that of every English club save for Liverpool and United themselves. Giggs also racked up 406 Premier League wins, a figure that can be put in perspective by current champions Manchester City's tally of 261. Elsewhere in England, there was joy on Saturday for Arsenal, who ended their nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup for a record-equalling 11th time. Arsene Wenger’s side also became the first team in 48 years, and the third overall, to come from two goals down to win the final without needing a penalty shoot-out.
years and 150 days was the age at which Martin Odegaard became the youngest goalscorer in the history of Norway’s Tippeligaen on Friday. The Stromsgodset midfielder rounded off the scoring in the 90th minute of his side’s 4-1 win over Sarpsborg, cementing his reputation as one of his country’s most exciting youngsters. This, in fact, was Odegaard’s fourth senior appearance for the Norwegian champions, who last year won the national title for the first time in 43 years. His first came on 13 April, when he not only became the youngest player to appear in the Tippeligaen, but marked an impressive debut with an assist.
Spanish titles was the landmark reached in dramatic style by Atletico Madrid on Saturday. The sensations of European football this season, Atleti came from a goal down at Barcelona to draw 1-1 and dethrone their hosts, lifting the Liga trophy for the first time in 18 years. Coach Diego Simeone had been a player for the club at the time of that previous triumph in 1995/96, and repeating the feat saw him become the first non-European coach to win the Spanish title since Jorge Valdano 19 years ago. Atletico’s triumph, which leaves them third on the all-time list behind Real Madrid (32 titles) and Barcelona (22), ends a run of nine successive championships for the traditional big two. And Simeone’s team could yet cap a truly amazing season by winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time on Saturday.
domestic trophies, an unprecedented haul in Portugal, have been won by Benfica this season after they lifted the Portuguese Cup on Sunday. The Lisbon giants had not won a double in 27 years, but went one better on this occasion with the first treble since the introduction of the Portuguese League Cup in 2007/08. Rio Ave were the team beaten by As Águias in both finals, and it could so easily have been a quadruple but for a heartbreaking defeat in last Thursday’s UEFA Europa League final. It was a match Benfica dominated, but ended having become the first team to lose the final of this particular competition in successive seasons. The loss was their eighth overall in European finals, and saw them equal Juventus’s record in the Turin giants’ own stadium. Victors Sevilla, meanwhile, became just the second club – after Dutch side Feyenoord – to establish a record of three victories in as many European finals.
Brazilian teams and zero previous winners have made it through to the Copa Libertadores semi-finals in what has been a remarkable season for South America’s elite club competition. Not since 1991 – 23 years ago – has the last four taken place without a single Brazilian representative, and this ensures the nation’s run of four successive Libertadores titles will come to end. We are also guaranteed a new champion, with Bolivar, Defensor Sporting, Nacional and San Lorenzo all chasing their first continental crown. For San Lorenzo - the only member of Argentina’s traditional ‘big five’ not to have won the Libertadores - this is the first time in 28 years that they have reached the semi-finals. Bolivar’s wait, 26 years, has been almost as long, and maintains hopes of a first South American title for Bolivia. Although this is only the third time in the competition’s history that the semi-finals have not included a former champion, this year’s edition does continue a peculiar Libertadores tradition. New winners are, after all, nothing new in FIFA World Cup years, with River Plate, Velez Sarsfield, Vasco Da Gama, Internacional all having won their first Libertadores titles in 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2006 respectively.