Star quality shines through
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Goals, and plenty of them, form the basis of FIFA.com's latest statistical review after a week in which Messrs Drogba, Del Piero, Suarez, Ortigoza and Messi all had cause to celebrate.

444

league appearances was the tally reached by Alessandro Del Piero at Livorno on Saturday, equalling Juventus legend Giampiero Boniperti’s long-standing record. Ironically, it was Boniperti – in his former role as Juve president - who recruited Del Piero from Padova 1993, and the 81-year-old this week tipped his former protégé to assume the club presidency once his spectacular career comes to an end. Although Del Piero wasn’t able to mark the occasion with a win, as the Turin giants slipped out of the European positions with a 1-1 draw in Tuscany, one of his former coaches was enjoying better fortune. A 1-0 win away to Fiorentina took Roma up to second in Serie A and extended the club’s unbeaten run under Claudio Ranieri to 19 matches, matching the former Juventus coach’s own personal record.

100

per cent was the penalty conversion rate maintained by Nestor Ortigoza on Saturday, when the Argentinos Juniors midfielder contributed to an incredible game at Lanus. The 25-year-old and his team-mates had looked destined for defeat after falling two goals behind inside the opening few minutes, but went on to mount a thrilling comeback and emerged from La Fortaleza with an emphatic 6-3 win. Remarkably for a club that has earned worldwide renown for bringing through the likes of Diego Maradona, Juan Roman Riquelme and Fernando Redondo, this was the first time in Argentinos Juniors’ 106-year history that they had ever scored six goals away from home. As for Ortigoza, who is hoping to travel with Paraguay to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, his record from the penalty spot in Argentina’s top flight now stands at 14 goals from 14 attempts.

16

goals and eight assists ensure that Lionel Messi currently has the honour of being La Liga’s top marksman and its leading creator. No-one in the past decade has ended a season with this duel distinction, but the reigning FIFA World Player boosted his hopes by scoring one and setting up another as Barça continued their title defence with a 2-1 win over Getafe. The Catalan giants have now strung together 22 top-flight matches without defeat, the third-longest streak in the club’s history, and hold a healthy five-point lead over old rivals Real Madrid. Most impressive of all, Pep Guardiola’s team have not found themselves behind in a match at any stage of the current league campaign, stretching back 1,890 minutes: an all-time La Liga record.

11

goals in ten games: that's how Didier Drogba’s recent record against Arsenal stands after another match-winning performance against the Gunners on Sunday. The Ivorian ace has now scored more goals against Arsene Wenger’s side than any other player in the Premier League, and many believe that his double in Chelsea’s 2-0 win has ensured a two-horse Premier League title race. For all their dominance of possession at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal continued a miserable record against the division’s top two, having lost eight, drawn one, won none and conceded 23 goals in nine matches against Chelsea and Manchester United since November 2008. Indeed, the ten goals conceded against the Red Devils and the Blues this season alone represents a third of those lost by Arsenal during the entire campaign thus far. United and Chelsea have certainly given the Gunners a harsh lesson in ruthless efficiency over the past two weeks, translating a meagre combined total of six shots on target against the Gunners into five goals.

4

goals in one match would normally be considered an exceptional individual haul, but Luis Suarez has something of a habit of it this season. Last Wednesday’s quadruple against Roda JC was the Ajax striker’s third of the current campaign, having already achieved the feat against Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Europa League in August and Eredivisie rivals VVV a month later. Ahead of carrying out this latest one-man demolition job, the prolific Uruguayan had endured something of a drought by his own high standards, going five games and almost two months without a goal. However, this latest four-goal haul – which included a 17-minute hat-trick - has taken Suarez on to 22 for the season, increasing the gap over Twente’s Bryan Ruiz to seven at the top of the Eredivisie scoring chart.