Stars dazzle as history is rewritten
© AFP

A week in which USA crowned a new champion, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund equalled domestic records, Brazil and Spain suffered noteworthy losses and Neymar celebrated another scoring feat comes under the microscope in FIFA.com’s latest statistical review.

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years after they recorded the biggest away win in La Liga history by beating Las Palmas 8-0, Barcelona matched that record scoreline on Saturday with an identically emphatic victory over Almeria. Their embarrassed Andalusian hosts had gone into the game with the division’s third-best defensive record, but their coach paid with his job after this mammoth defeat continued a winless run stretching back seven home matches – another La Liga record. Unsurprisingly, the architect of Almeria’s downfall was the irrepressible Lionel Messi, whose hat-trick took his La Liga goal tally to 101, enabling the little Argentinian to become only the fourth Barcelona ‘centurion’ after Cesar Rodriguez (195), Ladislao Kubala (131) and Samuel Eto'o (107).

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wins from the first 13 matches of a Bundesliga season is a feat that only two clubs have managed after Borussia Dortmund became the second on Saturday. Prior to BVB’s landmark victory over Freiburg, Bayern Munich were the only German outfit to have begun a domestic season so impressively, racking up 11 wins in their first 13 fixtures in 1980/81 and 2005/06. Encouragingly for the current leaders, both of those aforementioned seasons ended with Bayern clutching the championship trophy. Dortmund will clearly hope to continue that particular trend, but they also have in their sights another of their old rivals’ records. Having begun the season with seven straight victories on the road, Jurgen Klopp’s side are within another away win of emulating a Bundesliga benchmark set when Bayern won eight in succession between April and September 2005.

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different champions have now been crowned in 15 years of Major League Soccer after Colorado Rapids secured their first domestic title on Sunday. The Denver outfit were among the league’s founding members in 1996 but their only previous MLS Cup appearance had come 13 years ago, and they entered this season’s play-offs with the second-worst record of the eight teams involved. Yet despite a modest regular season haul of 12 wins from 30 matches that had earned them fifth place in the Western Conference, the Rapids peaked when it mattered most, seeing off FC Dallas thanks to an own goal – the third to be scored in an MLS Cup – from the unfortunate George John. The new US champions duly joined a group of five franchises with one MLS title to their name, with only one club – DC United – having won more than two.

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minutes was all that Neymar required to notch the week’s fastest hat-trick and move up a couple of places in Santos’s goalscoring hall of fame. By striking three times between the 75th and 82nd minute to secure a 4-1 win away to Goias, the Brazil international took his tally for 2010 to 43, the second-best tally of any Peixe player in the post-Pele era. Only Serginho Chulapa, who managed 45 in 1983, boasts a better tally during the same period, with Neymar’s hat-trick having taken him past Kleber Pereira and Giovanni, who accrued 41 and 40 respectively in 2008 and 1995. With two games remaining, and the 18-year-old having rejected his club’s offer of a break to prepare for January’s South American Youth Championships, Serginho’s benchmark could yet be surpassed as Neymar enhances his already stellar reputation. However, the prize of Brazil’s top scorer award looks likely to prove elusive, with five goals currently separating him from Gremio’s Jonas, the league’s current leading marksman.

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unanswered Portuguese goals handed Spain their worst defeat in 47 years last Wednesday. Not since a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Scotland in 1963 had La Roja suffered such an emphatic loss, with Portugal – who had beaten their Iberian neighbours just once in the sides’ previous eight meetings – exacting revenge for their Round of 16 exit at South Africa 2010. While Spain were continuing a worrying run that has seen them concede 12 times in their last four games, Argentina were arresting a frustrating sequence of their own, beating Brazil for the first time in five years. For match-winner Lionel Messi, it was his first-ever victory over A Seleção, who had won four and drawn one of their previous five matches against Argentina dating back to June 2005.