Champions defy the odds
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Silver has been the dominant shade of the past week and, as FIFA.com’s latest statistical review shows, not all of the teams picking up trophies took the conventional route to success.

99

points from a possible 114 was the record tally with which Barcelona finished their 20th championship-winning campaign on Sunday. Pep Guardiola’s team put four unanswered goals past Real Vallodolid to move within 11 titles of Real Madrid’s record tally and, despite an early scare, finished the season without ever having conceded the lead at Camp Nou. Barcelona’s attack is rightly lauded – they scored three goals or more in 50 per cent of their league matches this season – but their defence also played its part, conceding just 24 goals for the club’s best defensive record since 1973/74. And then, of course, there is Lionel Messi. A double against Vallodolid took this year’s Pichichi winner on to 34 for the season, the first player to reach this mark in La Liga since Ronaldo was in his devastating pomp for Barça in the mid-1990s.

26

years of Istanbul domination came to an end in Turkey on Sunday when Bursaspor snatched the Super Lig title on a dramatic final day. Ironically, Trabzonspor, whose 1984 triumph had enshrined them as the last title winners from outside the Bosphorus, played a huge part in enabling Bursaspor to assume this tag by holding Fenerbahce to a 1-1 draw. All that was left was for the pretenders to seize the throne, and they did just that, beating Besiktas 2-1 to continue a run of four wins, one draw and one defeat this season against the country’s dominant Istanbul trio. Between them, Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray boast 44 league titles, and the challenge now is for Busaspor, who lost only five of their 34 matches during 2009/10, to replicate Trabzonspor’s biggest achievement after their inaugural success in 1977: retaining their crown.

19

goals in 30 matches: this is the record that made Aduana Stars the lowest-scoring side in their debut season in the Ghanaian Premier League. Amazingly, however, the Dormaa outfit have not ended the campaign in the relegation zone, but as champions! A final-day defeat for rivals AshantiGold enabled Aduana to lift the trophy with a trademark 1-0 win over Berekum Arsenal, capping a remarkable season in which only four of their 30 games witnessed more than one goal. Predictably, these unlikeliest of Ghanaian kings set a host of new records, becoming the first newly-promoted club to win their nation’s top club prize and only the second lowest-scoring side in world football to win their national championship. The first, Sweden’s AIK, managed the same incredible feat in 1998. Yet not even AIK could compete with the new record set for the lowest number of goals-per-match by a domestic title-winner, with Aduana’s measly average of 0.633 beating the previous benchmark set when Ndiambour scored 20 goals in 30 matches (0.667 per match) en route to winning the Senegalese title in 1992.

8

different Argentinian champions have now been crowned in as many campaigns after Argentinos Juniors secured the Clausura title on Sunday. El Bicho’s triumph continued a sequence that began in 2006 with Estudiantes and has continued in recent years with San Lorenzo, Lanus, River Plate, Boca Juniors, Velez Sarsfield and Banfield. Unprecedented in Argentina, this remarkable run equalled a South American record, set when eight different clubs became Brazilian champions between 1983 and 1990. The world record in this respect is held by Indonesia and the Netherlands, where 11 different teams claimed the national championship in consecutive seasons from 1992-2003 and 1943-54 respectively.

3

wins from nine matches is not an immediately impressive tally, but this record – which also included five draws and one defeat – proved sufficient for Atletico Madrid to end their longest-ever trophy drought with victory in the UEFA Europa League. It had been 14 years since Los Colchoneros’ last silverware - a domestic league and cup double – and they had talisman Diego Forlan to thank for returning them to winning ways. Forlan struck twice in the 2-1 final reverse of Fulham and, having scored six of Atletico’s 11 goals over the course of their Europa League campaign, personally accounted for 55 per cent of the strikes that propelled the Spaniards to glory.