FIFA.com’s latest stats review reflects on a positive week for French Ligue 1 veterans and Italian and Portuguese giants, while highlighting a historic award for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the end of a Lionel Messi 'drought'.
Italian Serie A wins was the landmark Juventus became the first team to reach on Sunday. The reigning Italian champions did so with their ninth successive league victory, a run that has seen them rise nine places in the standings. There was also an impressive milestone for Roma, who notched their 4000th Serie A goal through Alessandro Florenzi, becoming just the fourth club – after Juve and the two Milan teams – to reach this tally. Yet all these teams are currently gazing enviously upwards at Napoli, who have become Italy’s winter champions for the first time since 1989/90 – the club's last Scudetto-winning season. Another positive omen for I Partenopei is that, since Serie A moved to 20 clubs in 2004/05, the leaders at the halfway point have always gone on to take the title. Napoli have lost just one of their last 25 competitive games, while Gonzalo Higuain – on target twice in Sunday’s 5-1 win at Frosinone - has already matched his best-ever Serie A season haul of 18.
years and seven months was the age at which Ricardo Carvalho opened his Monaco account on Saturday, becoming the oldest player in the last 25 years to open his Ligue 1 account in the process. It was the Portuguese defender’s first goal since moving to France in 2013 and his first for any club since scoring in a 2-0 win for Real Madrid over Levante in February 2011. It proved to be a weekend of notable firsts for golden oldies in France’s top flight, with Angers’ Charles Diers becoming the oldest French player in the last quarter-century to make his first Ligue 1 start, doing so at the age of 34 years and seven months. History was made by a younger player too, with Alexandre Lacazette scoring the first-ever goal at the impressive new Grande Stade de Lyon. The strike propelled Lyon to a 4-1 win over Troyes and ended a run of six league games without a win – their worst such sequence since 1998.
months after his last hat-trick – his longest such drought in six years – Lionel Messi returned to treble-scoring ways in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Granada on Saturday. It was the perfect send-off before Messi travelled to Zurich to boost his already-record haul of FIFA Ballon d’Ors to five, with the Argentinian having now finished first or second in each of the last nine years. The Barça star was honoured for a year in which he racked up 52 goals, 27 assists and won five major trophies, and 2016 seems to promise more of the same. But while Messi has already started the year with five goals in his first three games, he may find that he has a different principal goalscoring rival at Real Madrid. After all, Los Merengues’ most potent attacker of late has not been Cristiano Ronaldo, but Gareth Bale. The Welshman became the first player to score two Spanish La Liga hat-tricks in 2015/16 at the weekend and has now scored six headed goals this season – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.
unanswered goals gave Porto their biggest away derby win over Boavista in three-and-a-half decades on Sunday. O Dragões were in rampant form at the home of their city rivals, racking up a 5-0 win that is behind only two 6-0 successes – in 1953 and 1981 – in their biggest wins in this fixture. It was an especially welcome result as it ended a three-match winless run and kept Rui Barros’s side in touch with leaders Sporting. Jorge Jesus’s team had looked to be heading for just their second league loss of the season on Sunday when they went 2-0 down to Braga, but fought back from that position to claim a stirring 3-2 win. The victory maintained their coach’s remarkable unbeaten run in home league matches, which now stretches back 59 games to March 2012.
consecutive CAF African Footballer of the Year awards was the record Yaya Toure run brought to an end by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Friday. The Borussia Dortmund striker duly made history as both the first Gabonese player and the first player from the German Bundesliga to win his continent’s top individual honour. Aubameyang was rewarded for a year in which he scored a remarkable 41 goals for club and country, with his 2015/16 league tally of 18 making him the frontrunner to finish as Germany’s top scorer. Toure still finished a close second, garnering 136 votes to his rival’s 143, but it was not enough to stop his record-breaking sequence coming to an end. Nonetheless, the Ivorian remains one of just two four-time winners – the other being Samuel Eto’o - in the history of this 45-year-old award.