Farewells, finals and finishers
© 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, we look ahead to the UEFA Champions League final and reflect on a week that witnessed a fairy tale triumph in Germany and memorable farewells in Italy and Egypt.

100

per cent: that is the record in European finals with which Manchester United enter this evening's UEFA Champions League showdown with Barcelona. The Red Devils have won all three of their previous European Cup finals in 1968, 1999 and 2008, and having also seen off Barça in the 1991 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, are the only club to have played three or more European finals without losing. Tonight's eagerly-anticipated meeting has been billed as a battle between, arguably, the game's two best current players: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both, however, could be said to have psychological barriers to overcome. Messi may be the competition's top scorer with eight goals, but critics point out that he has yet to score in ten attempts against English opposition and was notably subdued in the semi-final meetings with Chelsea. Ronaldo too, though the most prolific player in the knockout phase along with Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry, has failed to find the target in six matches against Spanish opposition and famously missed a penalty in last season's semi-final meeting with Barça. The stage is set for one, or perhaps both, of these scintillating stars to end those sequences this evening.

24

years, four months and 11 days after Italy caught its first glimpse of a 16-year-old by the name of Paolo Maldini, the curtain will come down on the career of one the game's true greats on Sunday. The 40-year-old, who bade farewell to the San Siro in his 901st and penultimate appearance for AC Milan on Sunday, retires as the most-selected player in the history of the Rossoneri, Serie A and, with 126 caps, the Italian national team. Maldini's No3 shirt will be retired after the visit to Florence, although it has been said that it will be bequeathed to one of his sons should they make the senior side, with Maldini's eldest - Christian - currently starring for Milan's youth team.

16

successive home wins were the foundation on which Wolfsburg's title celebrations on Saturday were built. This record-equalling sequence, which emulated a run first strung together by Bayern Munich during the 1972/73 season, was just one of several milestones reached by a team that emerged almost from nowhere to secure their first-ever championship. Ninth at the league's halfway point, Felix Magath's side recorded the biggest improvement of any German team in history to become the first club since Borussia Monchengladbach 39 years ago to win a maiden Bundesliga title. In Grafite, whose partnership with Edin Dzeko is now officially the Bundesliga's most prolific ever, they also boasted a striker whose scoring rate of 1.12 goals-per-match (28 goals in 25 matches) leaves him behind only the legendary Gerd Muller, who managed 1.18 in 1971/72 and 1.15 in 1969/70.

11

goals in his last seven appearances have propelled Diego Forlan ahead of Samuel Eto'o in the race for both the Spanish Pichichi and Europe's Golden Shoe. A 14-minute hat-trick in Atletico Madrid's 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao took the Uruguayan on to 31, two clear of his Cameroonian adversary, and saw him become the first player since Ronaldo in 1997 to score at least 30 goals in a single La Liga season. For Eto'o, this situation must seem depressingly familiar: in 2004/05, Forlan - then with Villarreal - pipped the Barcelona striker to a Pichichi-Golden Shoe double by just a single goal. Eto'o does, however, have one game left in which to catch his old rival, and should he succeed in finding the target against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday, it will be the first time two players have reached the 30-mark in Spain's top flight since Hugo Sanchez (38) and Toni Polster (33) in 1989/90.

5

successive Egyptian championships, four CAF Champions League titles, four CAF Super Cups, two Egyptian cups and four Egyptian Super Cups: that is the remarkable legacy of success Manuel Jose leaves behind at Al Ahly. Sunday's 1-0 victory over Ismaili in the Egyptian championship play-off represented a fitting farewell for the beloved Portuguese coach, who has taken just eight years over two separate stints to rack up this incredible haul of silverware. Beating Ismaili left Jose with 110 wins and just eight defeats from 143 league matches in charge of the Cairo giants, and the architects of the all-important goal will leave him confident of success in his next post. After all, goalscorer Flavio and Gilberto, who provided the vital cross, are both members of the Angolan national team Jose is set to take charge of next month.