Nationality, unpredictability & a family freak
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A starting XI exclusive to compatriots and the wide-open nature of a European league feature in this week’s stats review, along with Juventus suffering, Central Coast Mariners shining and an outrageous curiosity between two of planet football's biggest stars.

869

days is the age difference between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – and their respective sons! The Real Madrid player, 27, and the 25-year-old Barcelona ace are incessantly compared, so it came as a great curiosity when the Argentinian’s son, Thiago, was born on Friday exactly 869 days after the Portuguese’s, Cristiano Jr.

49

matches unbeaten – just nine shy of the all-time Serie A record set by Fabio Capello’s magnificent AC Milan side of the early 1990s – was the run that came to an end for Juventus on Saturday. Since a 1-0 loss at Parma in May 2011, Juve had won 32 and drawn 17 in the league, and Arturo Vidal’s goal after 18 seconds at home to Inter Milan - the fastest in any of Europe’s big five leagues in 2012/13 – put them on course for a half-century. However, a Diego Milito brace and a Rodrigo Palacio effort enabled I Nerazzurri to run out 3-1 winners and inflict a first-ever defeat at the Juventus Stadium upon I Bianconeri in what was their 29th appearance. Inter, for their part, moved onto nine consecutive victories – and nine successive away successes – in all competitions.

11

Croatians is what Dinamo Zagreb fielded against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, making it the first time since Steaua Bucharest did so over six years ago that a team’s starting XI in the UEFA Champions League was made up entirely of players from one country. It did not, however, pay off for Ante Cacic’s men in the French capital. There, Zlatan Ibrahimovic become only the second man in the history of the competition to register four assists in a match – the first was Carlos Martins for Benfica against Lyon in 2010 – to inspire PSG to a 4-0 victory that left them on the cusp of a place in the Round of 16 and eliminated Zagreb. Furthermore, Alex’s deadlock-breaker was his eighth goal in the Champions League, moving the Brazilian level with John Terry as its all-time third-highest-scoring defender, behind Roberto Carlos (16) and Christian Panucci (11).

7

goals is what Central Coast Mariners fired past Sydney FC on Saturday, making them only the third team in A-League history to score more than six times in a match. Adelaide United were involved in the previous two, thrashing North Queensland Fury 8-1 in January 2011 before being hammered 7-1 by Brisbane Roar nine months later. Yairo Yau, who was given a late call-up into the starting XI when Alessandro Del Piero was ruled out, opened the scoring for Sydney at Bluetongue Stadium, but four goals inside 11 second-half minutes propelled Central Coast to a 7-2 success. Daniel McBreen duly become the first-ever player to net a hat-trick for the Mariners, who were founding members of the A-League, while the Sky Blues’ winless run in Gosford was extended to over 50 months.

6

different teams have lifted the Swedish Allsvenskan trophy in the last six seasons following Elfsborg’s triumph on Sunday. The Boras outfit benefited from Hacken seizing just one point from their last two home games, and Malmo collecting only two from their final two outings, to cross the line first for the sixth time. With IFK, Kalmar, AIK, Malmo and Helsingborgs having won the previous five editions, Sweden became one of just two of UEFA’s 53 Member Associations to have crowned six different clubs in the past six campaigns – FYR Macedonia is the other, with Pobeda, Rabotnicki, Makedonija Gjorce Petrov, Renova, Shkendija and Vardar having lifted its trophy once apiece since 2007. Hacken took consolation from running home in the highest position of their 72-year existence and scoring 17 times more than the division’s next most prolific team, while their 21-year-old striker Waris Majeed become just the third player since 1975 to break the 22-goal barrier in an Allsvenskan season.