Heroes born and giants humbled
© AFP

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.

This week's review features some of the game's true goliaths. While Spain and Manchester United both prospered, the latter thanks to a record-breaking debutant, Bayern Munich and Argentina were left to curse some of Federico Macheda's free-scoring fellow strikers.

35

goals between Grafite and Edin Dzeko have established the Wolfsburg duo as the Bundesliga's most prolific striking partnership this season. The Brazilian-Bosnian pairing account for an impressive 60 per cent of the surprise leaders' goal tally, with Grafite topping Germany's scoring charts with 20 and Dzeko just five goals behind in fourth. Only Hoffenheim's Vehad Ibisevic and Demba Ba, on a combined total of 29, come close, with Bayern Munich's all-star pairing of Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose having managed just 10 each. Wolfsburg's incredible 5-1 win over Bayern, in which Grafite and Dzeko both scored twice, saw Magath's side - unbeaten in 2009 - become the sixth team to top the Bundesliga this season. In inflicting Bayern's heaviest defeat in over seven years, Die Wölfe also equalled their own record for most wins in a Bundesliga season, this with eight matches of their campaign still to play

32

minutes into his senior debut, Federico Macheda struck what could prove to be the most important goal of the English Premier League season and, in doing so, became the top flight's youngest scorer this season. At just 17 years and 226 days old, the Italian prodigy's injury time winner against Aston Villa saw him eclipse his own team-mate, Danny Welbeck, who scored against Stoke City 10 days before his 18th birthday. With Brazilian fullback Rafael, 18, making it a Red Devils 1-2-3 in the Premier League's list of youngest scorers this season, Alex Ferguson's reputation for developing young talent shows no sign of weakening.

31

consecutive matches without defeat, the most recent of was secured in Turkey last Wednesday, have seen Spain equal a European record first set by Hungary's Magical Magyars almost 55 years ago. Gustav Sebes' celebrated side survived unbeaten for over four years between 4 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, with their memorable run only coming to an end with defeat to West Germany in the 1954 FIFA World Cup™ final. Brazil still hold the world record for consecutive internationals without defeat, having gone 36 matches without loss between 1993 and 1996. Spain's last reverse came at the hands of Romania on 15 November 2006.

6

is the number that has haunted Argentina for the past week after Diego Maradona's side crashed to a record-equalling defeat in Bolivia last Wednesday. Not since they went down by an identical 6-1 scoreline to Czechoslovakia over half-a-century ago in the 1958 FIFA World Cup have the Albiceleste suffered such an emphatic reverse. Ironically, the last time they lost by a five-goal margin was in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Colombia in September 1993, when a 5-0 home reverse led to a recall for a certain Diego Maradona. As for Joaquin Botero, in leading the demolition of a side whose previous 11 qualifiers had seen them concede just seven goals, Bolivia's hat-trick hero ascended to the summit of the South American Zone's scoring charts, two clear of team-mate Marcelo Martins and Brazil's Luis Fabiano.

4

English clubs are once again doing battle in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals this week, equalling a record set during last year's competition. Before season 2007/08, no nation had ever been represented with more than three teams in the last eight of Europe's premier competition, although West Germany did provide five of the quarter-finalists and all four semi-finalists in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup. England's growing stranglehold on the Champions League is perhaps best reflected in the fact that tonight's meeting between Chelsea and Liverpool is the clubs' ninth meeting in the last five seasons. Indeed, the meeting of London's Blues and Liverpool's Reds is now the second-most common in the knockout phase behind Real Madrid-Bayern Munich, a remarkable statistic given that sides from the same country cannot be drawn against each other in the last 16.