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.
Records dominate this week's review, from those broken by Barcelona and NAC Breda through one equalled by Richard Dunne to another being chased by Manchester United's veteran goalkeeper.
minutes is all that now stands between Edwin van der Sar and a new clean sheet record in the English Premier League. Four years ago, Petr Cech went a remarkable 1025 minutes without conceding between 12 December 2004 and 5 March 2005, but Manchester United's dependable Dutchman can surpass that benchmark against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday. Already, in going 942 consecutive minutes since conceding his last goal, the 38-year-old has set a new personal best, surpassing the record of 846 minutes established during the 1995/1996 Eredivisie season with Ajax.
years and 34 days, the average age of NAC Breda's starting line-up against Utrecht on Saturday, made it the oldest team to take to the field in an Eredivisie match in the last 20 years. It was the southern outfit who had set the previous record back in November of last year, surpassing a benchmark laid down on 1 December 2001, when RKC Waalwijk won 3-0 against Roda JC with a starting line-up averaging 30 years and 227 days. Although Breda couldn't emulate that result, drawing 1-1 with Utrecht, their experienced team have done the club proud this season and currently sit sixth, just one point behind the mighty PSV.
matches are all that it has taken for Barcelona to reach the 50-point mark in La Liga. Never before has a team reached this landmark in so few games, and Barcelona made history in style with a scintillating 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday. Real Madrid will point out, however, that their legendary team of the early 1960s began season 1960/61 with an identical record of 16 wins, two draws and one defeat, with the only difference being that Alfredo di Stefano and Co did so in the days of two points for a win. The reigning champions, for their part, remain 12 points behind, but they did at least strengthen their grip on second place on Sunday with a 3-1 win over Osasuna.
years and eight months after Atalanta last beat Inter Milan at home, the Orobici finally enjoyed the upper hand over their notoriously problematic visitors. Inter hadn't lost in Bergamo since going down 2-1 on 1 May 1994 - the longest non-winning sequence in Atalanta's Serie A history - but, sure enough, it was in the Atleti Azzurri D'Italia stadium that Jose Mourinho's side suffered only their second defeat of the season. Incidentally, Atalanta's two-goal hero was also the week's oldest goalscorer; Cristiano Doni proving that, even at 35 years and 292 days old, he remains a force to be reckoned with.
red cards is the unwelcome Premier League record that Manchester City's Richard Dunne equalled on Saturday. By kicking out at Amr Zaki in the closing stages of City's 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday, Dunne eclipsed the temperamental trio of Roy Keane, Vinnie Jones and Alan Smith - all of whom saw red on seven occasions - and drew level with Patrick Vieira and Duncan Ferguson at the top of this list of Premiership ‘villains'. With Vieira now plying his trade in Italy and Ferguson enjoying his retirement, Dunne's must now walk something of a disciplinary tightrope if he is to avoid claiming this record in his own right.