Records fall on the road to Brazil
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The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ preliminaries dominate FIFA.com’s latest stats review, with runs ending and individual records sent crashing down.

526

minutes without scoring was the record run that came to a much-welcome end for France in Belarus last night. Les Bleus had been without a goal since March and, midway through the first half in Gomel, they eclipsed the team's previous record streak of 500 minutes, set between June 1924 and May 1925. However, having gone so long without scoring, the goal that ended their wait – a Franck Ribery penalty – served to open the floodgates. A team that had failed to score once in 526 minutes duly went on to find the net four times in the next 26, with Ribery adding a second and Paul Pogba scoring the first goal of his burgeoning international career.

144

international appearances is the hugely impressive tally that has enabled Anders Svensson to become Sweden’s most-capped player. The Elfsborg midfielder already held the record for outfield players but, by appearing in last night’s 1-0 win over Kazakhstan, he surpassed legendary goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli. Svensson, who made his debut in 1999, has reached this landmark in style with goals in two of his last three appearances – one a spectacular long-range strike in a 4-2 win over Norway, the other a winning goal in Dublin that took the Swedes a massive step towards Brazil 2014. Next in Svensson’s sights will be another great midfielder, Lothar Matthaus, who has won more caps for a major European nation (150) than any other player. The overall continental record, though, belongs to Vitalijs Astafjevs of Latvia, who made a remarkable 167 appearances for his country between 1992 and 2010.

68

international goals was the landmark reached by Miroslav Klose on Friday, taking him level with Gerd Muller as Germany's all-time leading scorer. The Lazio striker equalled Muller’s 39-year-old record with the opener in the Germans' 3-0 win over Austria, though he failed to find the net against the Faroe Islands last night and missed out on taking outright ownership of the record – for now at least. With Joachim Low’s side on the brink of qualifying, Klose can now begin to look forward to Brazil 2014 and another benchmark – Ronaldo’s tally of 15 FIFA World Cup goals – that is well within his reach.

41

years without a home win in FIFA World Cup qualifying was the run that came to a long-awaited end for Luxembourg last night. A 3-2 win over Northern Ireland was the Red Lions’ first on home soil since 1972, when they inflicted a 2-0 reverse on Turkey. Luxembourg have nonetheless been on the up for some time, and their most recent win in FIFA World Cup qualifying came away from home with a stunning 2-1 victory over Switzerland in 2008. Indeed, last night’s success came five years to the day after that momentous triumph in Zurich. As for Northern Ireland, they are this morning facing up to the depressing statistic that they have won just one of their last 16 internationals, with ten of those having ended in defeat.

14

successive FIFA World Cup appearances is the sequence that will be extended by Italy at Brazil 2014 after they made sure of their place last night. Gli Azzurri have been represented at every edition since 1962 and, with 18 appearances overall, are second only to Brazil (20). The Italians found themselves trailing at half-time against Czech Republic – a team they had only beaten once in five previous attempts – but came back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli. The latter’s strike came from the spot and maintains his record of never having missed a penalty in 20 attempts for club and country. It was also a landmark night for Azzurri captain Gianluigi Buffon, who made his 136th appearance and, in doing so, equalled Fabio Cannavaro's all-time record.

6

unanswered Brazilian goals condemned Australia to their biggest defeat in over 15 years on Friday. Not since a 7-0 loss to Croatia on 6 June 1998 have the Socceroos been beaten so convincingly, and Brazil equalled their record winning margin in this fixture, set with another 6-0 win in 1997. This latest thumping victory was nonetheless a perfect way for the Brazilians to mark their nation’s independence day in style, and the FIFA Confederations Cup champions remain in impressive form. A 3-1 victory over Portugal followed last night, meaning Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team have now scored 34 times in their last 12 matches and conceded just nine in reply.