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.
The latest meeting between Chelsea and Liverpool comes under the spotlight this week, as does Manchester United's presence on the PFA Players' Player of the Year shortlist, an Atletico Madrid scoring feat, Andre-Pierre Gignac and a trio of 17-year-olds.
goals in La Liga is the milestone Atletico Madrid reached on Sunday in a 2-1 win at Deportivo; a figure surpassed only by Real Madrid (5,067), Barcelona (5,022) and Athletic Bilbao (4,203), the three teams who have played every season in the Spanish top flight. Following back-to-back defeats by relegation strugglers Osasuna and Mallorca, Simao posted Atletico's second goal of the evening to bring up the landmark and keep them three points behind fourth-placed Valencia.
goals had been amassed by Toulouse's Andre-Pierre Gignac in Ligue 1 this season before he finally found the net with his left foot on Saturday. The France striker, 23, ended his weaker-foot drought in some style, too, arrowing the ball into the bottom-left corner of the Nantes net from outside the box to earn his side a 1-0 win, which moved them up to fourth. The strike took Gignac, who registered a hat-trick against the same opponents on his Ligue 1 debut, while at Lorient in 2006, three clear of Paris Saint-Germain's Guillaume Hoarau on the scoring chart, and another two goals would surpass the 20 that made Lyon's Karim Benzema the competition's leading marksman last season.
years and 202 days was the age at which Cagliari's Daniele Ragatzu scored his first Italian Serie A goal in his side's 2-1 defeat away to Fiorentina on Saturday; just three minutes after coming on as an 84th-minute substitute. Meantime in the English Premier League, Federico Macheda, just 12 days the Sicilian's senior, accelerated his meteoric ascent by rising from the bench to snatch Manchester United a 2-1 victory at Sunderland. Matchday 5 in the Japanese J.League also belonged to teenagers: Genki Haraguchi, who will turn 18 on 9 May, scored the only goal as Urawa Red Diamonds beat Nagoya Grampus on their travels, while Kashima Antlers forward Yuya Osako, 18, posted what proved to be the winner against FC Tokyo to send the reigning champions top.
goals is the number Chelsea and Liverpool shared in a pulsating quarter-final, second leg, equalling Manchester United's 7-1 win over Roma in 2007 as the highest-scoring post-last 16 match in the UEFA Champions League. Moreover, only one knockout-phase game in the competition's 16-season history has involved more goals than last night's at Stamford Bridge: Lyon's 7-2 reverse of Werder Bremen in the last 16 in 2005. The Blues and the Reds have now done battle ten times in the Champions League, with the last three meetings producing 17 goals and the previous seven encounters a mere five strikes.
of the 6 players nominated for the PFA Players' Player of the Year, announced yesterday, came from Manchester United. Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo are all in contention, with the latter bidding to become the only three-time recipient of the award, which was first handed out in 1974. It took until 1989 for Mark Hughes to become the first Red Devil to receive the honour, but if one of the aforementioned candidates is successful this year, Manchester United players will have claimed ten of the last 20 prizes [Hughes, again in 1991, Gary Pallister in 1992, Eric Cantona in 1994, Roy Keane in 2000, Teddy Sheringham in 2001, Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002 and Ronaldo in 2007 and 2008 being the others]. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, the remaining name on the shortlist, will be hoping to emulate Ronaldo, Hughes, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry and become only the fifth two-time recipient.