Fairy tales and broken hearts
© AFP

Memorable successes and mixed emotions were the order of the week as Fulham, Twente, Al Ahly, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan all rejoiced at the expense of their domestic and continental rivals. As always, FIFA.com looks at the numbers behind the past week’s football headlines.

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passes were made by Xavi in last week’s UEFA Champions League semi-final, second leg – 37 more than the entire Inter Milan team. In fact, over the two legs, Barcelona completed 999 more passes than their Italian conquerors, with 1,372 compared to 373. Yet despite these staggering statistics, and Barça's 86.4 per cent share of possession at Camp Nou, it was I Nerazzurri who advanced to their first European Cup final in 38 years. Jose Mourinho duly became the sixth coach to reach this stage of the tournament with multiple clubs, following Ottmar Hitzfeld, Vujadin Boskov, Udo Lattek, Ernst Happel and his adversary in the 22 May Madrid showdown, Louis van Gaal. Samuel Eto’o should also become only the third player to participate in successive Champions League finals for different clubs, emulating Marcel Desailly (Marseille 1993, AC Milan 1994) and Paulo Sousa (Juventus 1996, Borussia Dortmund 1997).

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years after the formation of the Dutch Eredivisie, history has been made with the title finishing up outside Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven in successive seasons for the first time. Twente’s remarkable triumph, the first of their 45-year history, followed on from the 2009 conquest of AZ, who remain the only other club from outside the dominant trio of major cities to have finished on top since the league’s 1956 inception. For Ajax, who finished a point behind Twente despite having scored more goals (106) and conceded fewer (20) than any other team in the division, coming up short was doubly disappointing as it left the Amsterdam giants without a league title since 2004, their longest drought since the Eredivisie was founded. Not that Ajax’s woes matter to anyone in a jubilant Enschede, where Steve McClaren was hailed as ‘King Steve’ after becoming the first English coach to win a major European league title since the late, great Sir Bobby Robson led Porto to glory 14 years ago.

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Egyptian league titles was the milestone reached by Al Ahly on Friday after the Cairo giants inflicted a 3-0 defeat on already-relegated Mansoura. This comfortable victory left Hossam El-Badry’s side 12 points clear with just three matches remaining and clinched a sixth successive crown, maintaining their stranglehold on the Eyptian Premier League. No African club has won as many national league titles as Al Ahly, in fact, with Sudanese outfit Al Hilal their nearest challengers on 25, and Côte d'Ivoire’s ASEC and Saint George of Ethiopia following behind on 23.

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players, Zoltan Gera and Bobby Zamora, have been responsible for scoring or setting up 12 of Fulham’s 15 goals en route to the UEFA Europa League final. The Cottagers’ Hungarian midfielder and English striker have been central figures in the fairy tale success of a club that, as recently as 1996, finished just eight places off the bottom of England’s fourth tier. This season, under the expert guidance of Roy Hodgson, Fulham have seen off the likes of Juventus, Wolfsburg, Hamburg and Europa League holders Shakhtar Donetsk to set up a shot at their first-ever major trophy against Atletico Madrid on 12 May. Sadly for Fulham, the match will not be staged at their Craven Cottage fortress, the endearingly old-fashioned stadium in which the Londoners have lost just one of their last 13 domestic and continental fixtures.

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goal was all Paris Saint-Germain required to claim their eighth Coupe de France on Sunday and continue the national stadium’s record for closely-contested finals. Since the Stade de France began hosting the national showpiece in 1998, none of the 13 finals have been won by a margin of greater than one goal. This time, true to form, a solitary extra-time header from Guillaume Hoarau's proved sufficient to secure a 1-0 win for PSG over Monaco, reversing the scoreline in these sides’ only previous meeting in a Coupe de France decider 25 years ago. It was the capital club’s eighth success in the tournament, edging them closer to Marseille’s record tally of ten.