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.
In this week's review, we analyse Manchester United's quintuple quest and Real Madrid's rapid rise as well as taking a look at the goals that saw new records set by Bayern Munich, Celtic and Martin Palermo.
years after the great Francisco Varallo scored his 194th and final goal for Boca Juniors, Martin Palermo assumed Pancho's mantle as Los Xeneizes' all-time leading scorer on Saturday. The 35-year-old, who was starting his first game since returning from a cruciate knee ligament injury, had been stuck on the 194-mark since June of last year, but ended his long wait by opening the scoring in a 3-1 win over Huracan. Varallo, the sole surviving participant in the first-ever FIFA World Cup™ final, is now 99, and will doubtless consider Palermo - a fellow La Plata native - a worthy heir.
consecutive UEFA Champions League matches have passed since a home side were last able to keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich, establishing the Bavarian giants as the most consistent goalscorers on the road in the tournament's history. Bayern broke the record in style too, racking up a 5-0 victory in Lisbon that equals the biggest-ever away win in Champions League history. Ironically, it was a German side who were the first to suffer this humbling scoreline in Europe's top competition, with Werder Bremen conceding five unanswered goals at home to Porto on 30 March 1994. In between times, Galatasaray, Sturm Graz, Deportivo La Coruna and Basel have all suffered the same indignity at the hands of Chelsea, Valencia, Monaco and Barcelona respectively. As for Bayern, it is now almost four years since Arsenal became the last Champions League opponents to shut them out away from home with a 1-0 victory at Highbury on 9 March 2005.
straight victories is the run that has propelled Real Madrid from apparent no-hopers to genuine contenders in the race for the Spanish title. Barcelona's lead, which stood at 12 points just a few weeks ago, has now been eroded to just four, and a look at the history books will make even more worrying reading for the under-pressure Catalans. After all, in every one of the eight previous seasons in which Real have strung together a winning streak of at least eight matches, they have ended as champions. Already, Juande Ramos' side have succeeded in establishing the club's longest winning run since 1963, although they will need another five successive victories to match the Spanish record 15-game sequence racked up by Puskas, Di Stefano and Co between 1960 and 1961.
unanswered goals against St Mirren on Saturday gave Celtic the biggest win of the Scottish Premier League season and took Gordon Strachan's side to within a single goal of the division's all-time record scoreline. It was the Bhoys themselves who set that particular benchmark with a thumping 8-1 victory over Dunfermline in February 2006, and they might well have surpassed it on Saturday it but for a missed penalty from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Remarkably, in fact, none of Celtic's seven goals came from the club's out-of-form strikers, with midfield trio Shunsuke Nakamura (3), Scott Brown (2) and Marc Crosas providing the first six before a John Potter own goal completed a nightmarish 90 minutes for ten-man St Mirren. Yet with Vennegoor of Hesselink not having scored since 27 September, and Georgios Samaras having gone nine games without a goal, it's perhaps no great surprise that even this 7-0 victory left Celtic trailing Rangers on goal difference in the race for the title.
down, three to go. That is the situation for Manchester United as they bid for an unprecedented quintuple of domestic, European and world titles. A tense penalty shoot-out victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's League Cup final provided Sir Alex Ferguson with the 41st trophy of his managerial career and added the second piece of the jigsaw in what promises to be an historic season. With the FIFA Club World Cup already safely tucked away, a healthy seven-point lead in the Premier League and an FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham to look forward to, many believe that the Champions League remains the greatest hurdle to any clean sweep. However, although no team has succeeded in retaining the European Cup since the competition was revamped in 1993, United did make history last week when a 0-0 draw away to Inter Milan extended their unbeaten Champions League run to a record 20 matches.