Strikers, a centurion and shows of strength
© AFP

The pre-FIFA World Cup™ friendlies dominate our latest stats review, with the feats of Messrs Drogba, Lukaku and Van Persie featuring alongside the fine form of France and Germany. Club football also merits a fleeting mention thanks to the curtailing of a record-equalling run in USA.

100

caps was the milestone reached by Didier Drogba in Côte d'Ivoire's 2-1 friendly defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday. The 36-year-old striker marked the occasion in typical style, scoring a ferocious late free-kick to increase his already-record Elephants goals tally to 64. Drogba is the third player in the Ivorians' Brazil 2014 squad to reach the century-mark, following as he does in the footsteps of Kolo Toure (106) and record caps-holder Didier Zokora (119). Later, the Galatasaray striker - back in action for the first time since 4 April - expressed his joy on Instagram. "Wearing this jersey and representing my country 100 times has always been a privilege," he wrote. "Thanks to all my team-mates in this team from the day I start until now, thank you to my fans for the unconditional love and also all the critics that always make me work harder to get close to my dream."

12

games without loss was the MLS joint-record that came to an end for Real Salt Lake in spectacular style on Saturday. A 4-0 defeat at Seattle Sounders was the Claret and Cobalt's first regular season reverse since last September, and ended their hopes of seizing the record outright. As it is, having started the season with 12 games unbeaten, they have merely matched a feat previously achieved by LA Galaxy (1996 and 2010) and Kansas City Wizards (2000). Head Coach Jeff Cassar has also emulated Lothar Osiander's record for the longest unbeaten start to a managerial career in MLS. However, Cassar's side now find themselves five points behind their weekend conquerors, with Sounders having raced clear at the top of the Western Conference due to having drawn just two matches to RSL's six.

6

goals in his last five starts for Belgium is the record that Romelu Lukaku will take into the FIFA World Cup. The Diables Rouges striker was in particularly fine form in his team's 5-1 win over Luxembourg last week*, a match in which he became the first Belgium player in 13 years to score a hat-trick - since Bob Peeters in a 10-1 win over San Marino. Even Lukaku's recent record, however, pales in comparison to that of Robin van Persie. The Netherlands captain can boast of having found the net eight times in his last seven appearances for the Oranje, and was responsible for their goals in Saturday's 1-0 win over Ghana and the preceding 1-1 draw with Ecuador. Van Persie has been nothing if not consistent for Louis Van Gaal, having contributed 14 goals in the 16 games he has played under the current coach's reign. With a striker like that, it's hardly surprising the Dutch have lost just one of their last 20 matches.

4

unanswered goals against Norway last week gave France their biggest win at the Stade de France in nine years. Not since they racked up an identical 4-0 scoreline against Cyprus in 2005 have Les Bleus won so convincingly in their home stadium. It was France's sixth win in seven matches - as many as they had managed in their previous 18 - and fortified a growing sense of confidence, particularly on their own patch. Didier Deschamps team have, after all, won their last five matches at the Stade de France by an aggregate score of 18-0. Relocating to Nice's Allianz Riviera Stadium for Sunday's friendly with Paraguay broke the spell, however, with an 89th-minute goal ending France's winning run, not to mention their hopes of a fourth successive clean sheet.

1

year and 2 days have now passed since Germany were last beaten after they extended their undefeated run to ten matches on Sunday. A 2-2 draw with fellow FIFA World Cup participants Cameroon preserved the Germans' streak, which dates back to their most recent reverse: a 4-3 loss to USA on 2 June 2013. That high-scoring defeat has not been typical of Joachim Low's side's performances of late, with a run of 394 consecutive minutes without conceding only brought to an end by Samuel Eto'o's opener for Cameroon. The match saw Lukas Podolski make his 113th appearance for the national team, edging the Arsenal forward closer to the only two men still ahead of him on the all-time list: Miroslav Klose (131) and record-holder Lothar Matthaus (150). At the other end of the spectrum, defender Erik Durm was named in the starting line-up for his first-ever international appearance.

* This match has subsequently been declared unofficial due to Belgium exceeding the maximum number of substitutes permitted.