Icons under attack
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 is dominated by teams and individuals intent on making history, from the free-scoring Filippo Inzaghi and Grafite through the prolific pairing of Messrs Messi and Eto'o to the newly-crowned Dutch champions.
years after Ladislao Kubala and Cesar became the last Barcelona strike duo to score 20 league goals apiece in the same season, Lionel Messi ensured a place in history for himself and Samuel Eto'o alongside their illustrious predecessors on Saturday. A match-winning strike in the 1-0 win over Getafe took the Argentinian to 20 for the season and, with Eto'o already leading the scoring charts on 26, the Barça pairing have established themselves among La Liga's most prolific-ever partnerships. Only six duos, including Kubala and Cesar, had previously managed this same feat, with the Nihat Kahveci-Darko Kovacevic (23 and 20 goals respectively in season 2002/03) and Davor Suker-Raul (24 and 21 in 1996/97) pairings the most recent.
years on from their only previous Eredivisie title, AZ made a long-awaited return to the pinnacle of Dutch football on Sunday. Ajax's 6-2 defeat at PSV Eindhoven served to crown Luis van Gaal's side with three games to spare, and confirmed the Alkmaar outfit as the most dominant Dutch champions for a decade. Not since Feyenoord held the Eredivisie lead for 190 consecutive days in season 1998/99 has a club been in such command, with AZ having hogged pole position since 23 November. It was the newly-crowned champions themselves who set the all-time record of 277 days in that solitary triumph back in 1980/81, and their return to title-winning ways is all the more remarkable for the fact they kicked off their league campaign with two successive defeats. No team had ever gone on to win the Eredivisie after starting the season so poorly.
Serie A hat-tricks, the most recent of which came in AC Milan's 5-1 win over Torino on Sunday, have secured yet another record for the irrepressible Fillipo Inzaghi. In the past 20 years, no-one has claimed as many trebles in the Italian top flight, with Inzaghi's latest hat-trick taking him past the illustrious pairing of Marco van Basten and Giuseppe Signori, whose tallies stood at nine. The oft-maligned Milan striker, whose first Serie A treble came on 9 March 1997 for Atalanta, had already surpassed the likes of Roberto Baggio (8) and Gabriel Batistuta (7). Nor was Inzaghi the only Italian to grab a landmark goal at the weekend, with Francesco Totti's 174th and 175th Serie A strikes in Roma's 3-2 win over Lecce taking him into the league's top ten all-time goalscorers. Another 31 would take the Roma captain past Baggio and into the top five, but he requires another 100 to surpass Serie A's all-time leading scorer, Silvio Piola.
goals-per-match is the astonishing scoring average that has taken Wolfsburg's Grafite to within touching distance of a long-standing Gerd Muller record. Not since Der Bomber scored 40 times in 34 appearances in season 1971/72 - an average of 1.18 goals-per-game - has a Bundesliga striker racked up such a remarkable ratio, with Wolfsburg's prolific Brazilian having taken his tally to 22 from 19 with a double on Saturday. In the history of the German top flight, only Muller has ever averaged more than a goal-a-game over the course of a season, although the inimitable Bayern Munich legend did manage the feat on three separate occasions (1969/70, 71/72 and 72/73). Grafite's spectacular scoring form has certainly been crucial to the surprise success of a Wolfsburg team whose 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen - their tenth win in a row - saw them equal the record for most successive Bundesliga wins within one season, set by Borussia Monchengladbach in 1986/1987.