Veterans, victories and a Portuguese fortress
© AFP

In FIFA.com’s latest stats review, landmarks for evergreen midfielders Gareth Barry and Juan Roman Riquelme feature alongside Porto’s marvellous unbeaten home run and superb starts to the season by Atletico Madrid and Roma.

500

Premier League appearances was the milestone reached by Gareth Barry on Monday. The veteran midfielder, on loan at Everton from Manchester City, is just the tenth of 3,351 players in the league’s history to celebrate this landmark, and follows in the footsteps of Ryan Giggs - the record-holder with 623 - David James, Frank Lampard, Gary Speed, Emile Heskey, Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville, Mark Schwarzer and Sol Campbell. Barry marked the occasion in style by helping Roberto Martinez’s side beat Newcastle United 3-2 and retain their status as the Premier League’s only unbeaten team this season. Everton have begun their campaign with three wins and as many draws, an identical start to the one registered in 1986/87 – the last time the club won the title. However, the Toffees did concede at home for the first time in 11 hours and 27 minutes of Premier League football, leaving them one match short of the club record of eight set during the 1987/88 season.

194

appearances at La Bombonera have now been racked up by Juan Roman Riquelme, taking the Boca Juniors playmaker level with club legend Silvio Marzolini. The former Argentina captain equalled Marzolini’s mark on Sunday in a 2-0 win over Quilmes, Boca’s fourth successive victory at their world-renowned stadium. Yet while Los Xeneizes are flying high, another member of Argentina’s traditional big five are not faring so well. With just two points from their opening nine fixtures, Racing Club are enduring their worst start to a season since the Clausura 2006. La Academia have lost all three of their most recent league matches without scoring a single goal, and this miserable start to the season has resulted in the departures of coach Luiz Zubeldia, general manager Roberto Ayala, and the club’s president and vice-president, Gaston Cogorno and Rodolfo Molina.

75

home league matches without defeat was the impressive landmark reached by Porto on Friday. A 1-0 win over Vitoria Guimaraes means that it is now almost five years since the Portuguese giants’ last reverse at the Estadio do Dragao, a 3-2 loss to Leixoes on 25 October 2008. Unsurprisingly, this equates to the best home record in any of Europe’s top flights, with Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia (50) and Norway’s Stromsgodset (36) O Dragões’ closest challengers. The Portuguese champions are also unbeaten in 42 league matches both home and away, a run strung together since they surrendered an even more remarkable 55-game sequence last January. That isolated defeat to Gil Vicente is, in fact, the only loss they have suffered in their last 98 Liga matches.

23

successive La Liga derbies without a win was the run that came to an end for Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Los Colchoneros’ 1-0 victory at the Bernabeu was their first in the fixture in almost 14 years - since a 3-1 success on 30 October 1999 - and ends their worst-ever derby run in the top flight. The victory also means that Atletico have now won the first seven matches of their league season for the first time in their history, and also boast a club record sequence of five consecutive away wins. Real, meanwhile, are facing up not only to the loss of their derby streak, but also to an unbeaten home run that had stretched back 34 league matches. Rubbing salt in their wounds is the fact that Barcelona have emulated Atleti by winning their opening seven league matches for the first time.

6

straight wins with just one goal conceded is the near-flawless start made by Roma to the Serie A season. I Giallorossi are, in fact, only the second team in the league’s history to achieve such an impressive record, with the first having been Helenio Herrera’s great Inter Milan side of 1967. They are also the first team to begin the Italian season with six successive victories since Juventus is 2005/06 and have done so with the club’s best-ever start to a top-flight campaign. Roma’s run was extended by a 5-0 win over Bologna, their biggest home victory since November 2006, and maintained the club's two-point advantage over Napoli. I Partenopei, for their part, won 2-0 at Genoa, scoring for the 16th consecutive Serie A match – a sequence last managed in 1975. It was also a weekend to remember for Christian Abbiati, who claimed the appearance record for an AC Milan goalkeeper in his 331st outing, moving beyond Sebastiano Rossi’s existing benchmark.