Xavi key as Villa eyes new record
The first of the South Africa 2009 semi-finals pits a scintillating Spain side against USA's great escapees in Manguang/Bloemfontein. As always, FIFA.com is on hand to look over some of the statistical trends and key numbers.
per cent is Xavi's passing success rate in the final third of the field, with Castrol Performance Analysts confirming that the Spain star has completed more passes in this key area than any other player at South Africa 2009. This classy, intelligent midfielder has established himself as the fulcrum of Vicente del Bosque's side and has helped the European champions achieve an unrivalled passing accuracy of 78 per cent in the final third. Brazil come closest on 71.8 per cent, but semi-final opponents USA have completed just 57.5 per cent of theirs and Iraq headed for home with a rate of 48.06. Xavi, who has made 70 more successful passes than his closest rival in South Africa, Andrea Pirlo, is the only player to have featured in all 15 of Spain's record sequence of successive wins.
years ago, Ronaldinho became the first and, to date, only player to score in four consecutive FIFA Confederations Cup matches. Tomorrow, David Villa - on target in each of Spain's three group matches - will emulate that achievement if he finds the net against USA. With 31 goals in 47 internationals, Villa boasts an international scoring average of 0.66 that only two players in Spain's history can beat. Both are bona fide legends: Telmo Zarra scored 20 goals in as many games between 1945 and 1951, while Alfredo di Stefano established a rate of 0.73 with 23 goals in 31 appearances. Villa certainly heads into tomorrow's semi-final in superb form, with his last 11 internationals having yielded 13 goals.
previous meetings, three defeats: that is the worrying record USA take into tomorrow's match. Spain have won all three previous encounters between the sides, triumphing 3-1 at the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and emerging victorious from two more recent friendlies in 1992 (2-0) and 2008 (1-0). The winning goal in last year's friendly was scored by Xavi, a player who seems to take particular enjoyment in putting USA to the sword. After all, the Barcelona midfielder was - along with Carles Puyol and Carlos Marchena - part of the U-23 team that inflicted a 3-1 defeat on the Americans in the 2000 Men's Olympic Football Tournament semi-final. He was also on target when the US were beaten 3-2 by Spain in the last 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Nigeria 1999.
goals are all that have Spain have conceded during their record 15-game winning sequence. The only players to dent La Roja's miserly record have been Belgium's Wesley Sonck and Semih Senturk of Turkey, both of whom were on target against the European champions during their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Can a USA player damage this record or, even better, end the Spanish sequence altogether? All will be revealed at the Free State Stadium.