In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet 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, each week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results. This latest review pays tribute to the impressive runs of AZ, Barcelona, Dinamo Kiev and Juventus, and their resepetive inspirations, namely Mounir El Hamdaoui, Samuel Eto'o, Stanyslav Bohush and Alessandro Del Piero.
games for Juventus in Serie A is the figure Alessandro Del Piero reached on his 34th birthday on Sunday, making him the joint-second record league appearant in the club's history alongside Gaetano Scirea, 67 shy of Giampiero Boniperti. Del Piero's unanswered brace ended La Vecchia Signora's run of six straight defeats away to Real Madrid last Wednesday, and he was again the inspiration as they won 2-0 at Chievo for their sixth successive victory. The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ winner opened the scoring in Verona with a trademark free-kick. However, when Juventus were awarded a second-half spot-kick, Del Piero, their usual penalty-taker, passed up an attempt at his 250 goal for the Turin giants in all competitions to afford Vincenzo Iaquinta the chance to score his first league goal of the campaign, which he did. "I would have taken it myself, but I understood that Vincenzo wanted to score and I was happy to leave it up to him," said Del Piero afterwards.
goals during eight successive La Liga victories, a ratio of 4.13 per game, is the arresting statistic that has belonged to Barcelona since their emphatic 6-0 win over Real Valladolid. Basement side Osasuna have, by contrast, scored just once during this same eight-game period. Barça pocketed just one point from their opening two matches, but a maximum return thereafter has them one point clear of runners-up Villarreal ten rounds into the campaign. Samuel Eto'o headlined their latest success, the Cameroonian's quartet taking his personal tally to 13 goals in his side's last eight league outings. Earlier on Saturday, Gonzalo Higuain scored all of Real Madrid's goals in their 4-3 reverse of Malaga; a result that kept them two points off the pace.
years since a club outside the 'big three' of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven last led the Dutch Eredivisie following ten rounds, AZ find themselves in pole position. After losing their first two games, Louis van Gaal's team have taken 22 points from a possible 24, and their 3-0 defeat of Twente on Sunday kept them above the Amsterdam giants on goal difference. AZ were, in fact, the frontrunners after ten matchdays in the 1980/81 campaign, when, encouragingly, they went on to win their solitary Eredivisie title - this remains the only time since 1959 that one of the Netherlands' all-conquering triumvirate has not lifted the trophy. The chief contributor to the Alkmaar team's current run has been Moroccan forward Mounir El Hamdaoui, who has been on target in his last seven league outings and is the competition's 13-goal leading marksman. AZ's position has also been aided by the inconsistent form of PSV Eindhoven. Chasing a fifth successive crown, Huub Stevens's side went down 1-0 at NEC at the weekend for their fourth loss of the season, equalling their number of defeats during the entire 2007/08 Eredivisie.
years and 186 days is the age difference between this past weekend's oldest and youngest scorers in the countless league's surveyed by FIFA.com - both, ironically, from the Scottish Premier League. On Sunday, defender David Weir, 38, broke the deadlock for Rangers en route to their 4-0 win at Kilmarnock, the country's most ancient professional team who will celebrate their 140th anniversary next year. One day earlier and four days before his 18th birthday, Hamilton Academical's James McCarthy netted the opener in a 1-1 draw with Falkirk, the club at which Weir began his career.
consecutive victories in the Ukrainian Premier League is what Dinamo Kiev made it on Sunday, when they recovered from an early Oleksandr Aliyev penalty miss to beat struggling FC Lviv 1-0 and stay seven points clear at the summit. Impressively, Stanyslav Bohush has conceded just once during this ten-game sequence, while his team-mates have managed 28 goals between them in the process.