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.
In this review, as Christmas draws near, we provide some early statistical gifts for fans of Barcelona, Hoffenheim and Al Ahly, while there are only proverbial lumps of coal on offer for the already-disgruntled fans of Real Madrid and River Plate.
years of River Plate have encompassed several remarkable milestones, among them two continental conquests in the Copa Libertadores and 33 top flight titles, an Argentinian record. Another landmark, albeit one considerably less welcome, was reached on Saturday when Los Millonarios finished bottom of the Apertura standings for the first time in their long and illustrious history. A 1-1 draw away to Estudiantes sealed their fate, leaving the club with a miserable record of just two wins from their entire 19-match campaign - and wondering where it all went wrong. It is, after all, little over six months since the Buenos Aires outfit finished at the opposite end of the table, claiming the Clausura title - their first in four years - amid scenes of jubilation.
Premier League goals is a milestone that, before Sunday, only 15 players had reached. By scoring in Chelsea's 1-1 draw against West Ham United, Nicolas Anelka became the 16th. Anelka's goal saw him draw level with team-mate Lampard on the century-mark but despite his fine current form, the Frenchman has little hope of matching the tally of 260 racked up during Alan Shearer's 13-year top flight career. Within touching distance, however, are former stars such as Matthew Le Tissier (101), Dion Dublin (111) and Ian Wright (113) as well as the likes of Emile Heskey (101) and Robbie Keane (107), still in action for Wigan Athletic and Liverpool respectively.
years ago, in season 1929/30, Barcelona held a lead over Real Madrid after 14 matchdays that, if recalculated in today's system of three points for a win, would have amounted to 13 points. Until the weekend, the closest they had come to replicating that cushion at this stage of the season was when Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' established an 11-point gap in season 1990/91 en route to clinching the first of three successive titles. A key player in that side was one Josep Guardiola, and on Saturday he went one better than his old mentor by guiding his team to a 2-0 victory that left the Catalans 12 points clear of their old rivals, and within touching distance of this long-standing record. As for the beleaguered reigning champions, this third consecutive defeat brings back bitter memories of the last time they lost three straight league matches: in 2004, when their Galacticos set an unwelcome club record by losing five successive matches.
of the previous 45 Bundesliga champions have preceded their championship success by being crowned Herbstmeisters. In ending the first half of the season atop the German league table and claiming this title, Hoffenheim will be encouraged by the fate of the last newly-promoted club to achieve the feat. It is only 11 years, after all, since Kaiserslautern claimed the Herbstmeisterschaft in their first season back in the top flight and went on to secure the championship. However, Hoffeneheim's grip on pole position appears precarious, with top spot only retained on goal difference after they came from behind to draw at home to Schalke and watched Stuttgart equalise in injury time against Bayern Munich.
FIFA Club World Cup appearances was the record set by Dida last year when he kept goal for champions AC Milan seven years on from starring in Corinthians' triumphant 2000 campaign. Fast forward 12 months, however, and the Brazilian goalkeeper could see his tally eclipsed by the Al Ahly quartet of Wael Gomaa, Mohamed Aboutrika, Shady Mohamed and Hossam Ashour, all of whom can make their seventh appearance at the global showpiece by featuring for against Adelaide United tomorrow. The favourites, Manchester United, can also call on experience, with their current squad boasting four survivors from their 1999 Intercontinental Cup win over Palmeiras in Tokyo: Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson himself.