Shutouts, goal gluts and beach brilliance

FIFA.com’s latest stats review features a mixture of attacking brilliance and defensive excellence, with the Netherlands and Madjer representing the former, and Italy and Republic of Ireland epitomising the latter. We also feature the holders’ demise in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, another landmark for Rogerio Ceni and fresh achievement for two Spanish stars.

1,000

games for Sao Paulo was the incredible total reached by Rogerio Ceni, by his personal count, in a 2-1 victory over Atletico Mineiro last night. The 38-year-old, the 103-goal highest-scoring keeper in history, walked on to the turf hand-in-hand with his twin daughters, to a tremendous reception from 60,514 supporters – a record crowd for this season’s Brasileirao. This latest landmark appearance took Rogerio further clear of Waldir Peres, who played a second-best tally of 617 matches for the club between 1973 and ’84. The Tricolor Paulista icon, who made his debut for the club in 1993, helped secure a first win in four attempts at the Morumbi, taking Adilson Batista’s side back to the top of the table. “This here is my life,” the highly emotional former Brazil international announced to the fans after the final whistle. “Thank you, I love you.”

103

international appearances, the most recent of which came in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over Liechtenstein, have established Xavi as Spain’s most-capped outfield player. While goalkeepers Andoni Zubizarreta (126) and Iker Casillas (124) still lead the Barcelona playmaker in the overall standings, the 31-year-old has nonetheless succeeded in surpassing Raul’s seemingly final haul of 102. Another Spaniard who enjoyed a night to remember was Alvaro Negredo, who scored a double to take his international tally to five goals in just four starting appearances. Negredo’s strikes, plus one from Xavi himself, helped Spain secure their place at UEFA EURO 2012 with two games to spare, and continue a record sequence of 20 successive qualifying wins across both the EURO and the FIFA World Cup™.

76

goals in 29 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup appearances is the jaw-dropping tally Madjer has reached this past week. The Portuguese icon’s haul, which is over twice that of his closest challenger, makes for an average of 2.6 goals per game, although he has exceeded even that during the Ravenna 2011 group phase. Nine goals in three appearances, including four in Portugal’s 5-0 win over Argentina, have left him four clear of the chasing pack in the race to finish top scorer, an honour Madjer has claimed in three of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup’s previous five editions. The Angola-born star can also now lay claim to 14 hat-tricks at this global showpiece; to put that in perspective, no-one else can boast more than four. Thanks largely to Madjer’s magic, Portugal have once again made it to the quarter-finals, maintaining their status as the only team besides Brazil to reach the last eight in every single edition.

33

years after they last failed to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt will once again be looking in from the outside on their continental showpiece. The Pharaohs, whose seven Cup of Nations titles have comfortably established them the most successful team in the competition’s history, were aiming for a fourth successive crown, having lifted the trophy in 2006, 2008 and 2010. However, their hopes evaporated thanks to a dismal qualifying campaign in which they have won none of their five Group G fixtures, scoring just twice in the process. The final nail in the Pharaohs’ coffin was provided by a 2-1 defeat by Sierra Leone, a match in which Ahmed Hassan made his 176th international appearance, taking him ever closer to the record of 178 held by Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Al Deayea.

11

unanswered goals against San Marino gave the Netherlands the most resounding win of their history on Friday. This crushing victory, which eclipsed the Oranje’s previous best – a 9-0 thrashing of Norway in 1972 – ranks alongside Spain’s 12-1 win over Malta in 1983 as the joint-second biggest UEFA European Championship qualifying win. It also came almost five years to the day since Germany set the record with a 13-0 drubbing of, you guessed it, San Marino. On this occasion, Robin van Persie struck four to emulate Lukas Podolski’s tally in 2006 and, in doing so, became the first Dutch player to score four goals in a EURO qualifier since Marco van Basten against the Maltese 21 years ago. With the Netherlands currently leading the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking and San Marino joint-bottom, there was always the possibility of a mismatch, and defeat to Sweden on Tuesday leaves the team from the principality having lost every one of their 55 EURO qualifiers.

5

years have now passed since Italy last lost a EURO or FIFA World Cup qualifier, this after Gli Azzurri advanced to Poland and Ukraine with two successive 1-0 wins. The key to the Italians’ success under Cesare Prandelli has been a rock-solid rearguard, with one goal conceded in eight matches giving them the best defensive record of all 51 EURO hopefuls. Indeed, it is now over a year since Italy’s defence was breached in EURO qualifying for the first and only time, with 689 minutes of football having elapsed since Sergei Zenjov scored Estonia’s consolation goal in the sides’ Group C opener. Elsewhere, another master of the Italian defensive arts is helping Republic of Ireland stay in the hunt for a place at EURO 2012, with Giovanni Trapattoni’s side racking up a record seventh successive clean sheet in Tuesday’s goalless draw in Moscow. The Irish have now gone 691 minutes without conceding, although they had luck – and the brilliance of Shay Given – to thank for keeping out a Russia side who registered 26 efforts on goal.