In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores
the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in
every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that
help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. This, the latest of our round-ups, has a distinct UEFA EURO 2008 flavour, but we also find time to praise the Solomon Islands' top flight, not to mention welcoming the one and only Jose Mourinho back into the dugout - and the limelight.
goals in 20 matches, an average of 5.09 goals-per-game, ensured that the Solomon Islands' National Club Championship was comfortably the highest-scoring in world football over the past week. Boosting this tally were no fewer than four games decided by a seven-goal margin, with the unstoppable Makuru inflicting 9-2 and 7-0 defeats on Banika Bulls and Vatu respectively. At other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, were Landowners FC, who found themselves on the receiving end of a 7-0 drubbing from Marist FC five days before the superbly-named Uncles FC rubbed salt in their wounds with an equally embarrassing 8-1 defeat.
caps is a milestone that, prior to last night, had only ever been reached by five players in the entire history of the French national team. All five - Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps - were part of the celebrated 1998 FIFA World Cup France™-winning squad of which Thierry Henry was also a member, and the Barcelona striker made sure of joining their exclusive centurions' club by starting yesterday's 1-0 win over Colombia. The 30-year-old, who hinted last week that he may retire from international football after EURO 2008, was heavily involved in the game's decisive moment, earning the penalty from which Franck Ribery scored the solitary goal. Yet impressive though Henry's longevity for Les Bleus undoubtedly is, his tally appears positively paltry when compared to that of Barça colleague Lilian Thuram, who strengthened his position as France's most-capped player by making his 140th appearance against the Colombians.
years after the previous record was set, Alexander Frei became Switzerland's all-time leading goalscorer with a double in the EURO 2008 co-hosts' 3-0 win over Liechtenstein on Friday. This brace took the Borussia Dortmund striker past the 34-goal mark set by Xam Abegglen between 1922 and 1937, a tally that had only ever been threatened once: by Kubilay Turkyilmaz. While Turkyilmaz ended his international career in 2001 just one goal short of smashing the record, Frei - who won his first cap the very same year - has succeeded in setting an impressive new benchmark for future generations of Swiss strikers to aspire to. And with his 29th birthday still over a month away, a half-century of international goals may yet prove within the grasp of the Basel-born star.
, the average age of the Italy squad, made Roberto Donadoni's Azzurri the oldest of all those announced ahead of EURO 2008 last week. The Italians' status as the European Championship's elder statesmen may, however, come under threat due to the enforced replacement of Fabio Cannavaro, 34, with 26 year-old Alessandro Gamberini. Sweden certainly run Donadoni's men close with an average age of 29.35, a figure boosted considerably by 36-year-old Henrik Larsson's decision to once again come out of international retirement for a major tournament. The EURO's youngest squad, meanwhile, is provided by the co-hosts, with Jakob Kuhn's faith in youth reflected in Switzerland's average age of 26.39.
trophies between 2003 and 2007 helped make Jose Mourinho arguably the most talked-about and sought-after coach in world football, and it is this track record of success that persuaded Inter Milan to appoint the charismatic Portuguese as Roberto Mancini's successor on Monday. The former Chelsea and Porto boss, who won four consecutive league titles, six domestic cups and two European trophies during that sensational four-year spell, had spent over eight months out of the game since departing Stamford Bridge in September 2007. His challenge now is to become the first coach in history to win domestic championships in both England and Italy. With Inter chasing a fourth straight Scudetto, the pressure is on the self-proclaimed 'Special One' to once again live up to his billing.