Milestones, misery and a masterclass
Records for Robbie Keane and Esteban Cambiasso, relegation for Monaco, Goa’s Indian dominance, and the Wembley wizardry of Xavi and Barcelona feature in FIFA.com’s latest statistical review.
passes, a record for this season’s competition, were attempted by Xavi in the UEFA Champions League final. And there was quality to match the quantity too, with a completion rate of 95 per cent making the 31-year-old the most accurate player on the field. The brilliant Barcelona No6 was also the game’s hardest worker, covering a greater distance (11.95 kilometres) than anyone else on show. Incidentally, Xavi has also emerged as a beacon of fair play in this season’s Champions League, somehow managing to negotiate all 953 minutes of his team’s campaign without conceding a single foul. As for Manchester United, the English champions were outrun, outclassed and, above all, outpassed; amazingly, even Barça goalkeeper Victor Valdes (18) completed more passes than Javier Hernandez (16). The Catalans’ dominance was further reflected in their tally of 12 efforts on target to the one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Victory at Wembley means that Barcelona have now equalled Real Madrid’s tally of 11 European trophies, and also re-establishes Spain as the most successful nation in European Cup history, with 13 titles to Italy’s 12.
consecutive seasons in the French top flight is the sequence that ended for Monaco on Sunday. A 2-0 home defeat by Lyon, ironically in the club’s 2,000th Ligue 1 fixture, consigned the seven-time champions to second-tier football for the first time since 1977. It also ensures Monaco are the first UEFA Champions League finalists to have been relegated on merit, with Marseille and Juventus having been demoted for other reasons. The despair in the principality could hardly have contrasted any more starkly with the continuing joy in Lille, where Moussa Sow ended in the season on a high with a third hat-trick of the season in the champions’ 3-2 win over Rennes. This treble took the Senegalese striker to 25 for the season, making him the first player to reach the quarter-century mark in Ligue 1 since Djibril Cisse in 2003/04.
winner’s medals, the latest of which came in Sunday’s Coppa Italia final, have enabled Esteban Cambiasso to surpass Alfredo Di Stefano as the most decorated Argentinian footballer in history. Di Stefano accrued 22 major honours during his glittering career, but this haul has now been eclipsed by Cambiasso’s success in Serie A (5 titles), the Coppa Italia (4), Supercoppa Italiana (4), South American Youth Championship (2), FIFA Club World Cup (1), FIFA U-20 World Cup (1), Intercontinental Cup (1), UEFA Champions League (1), UEFA Super Cup (1), La Liga (1), Argentina Primera Division (1) and Supercopa de Espana (1). The 30-year-old’s closest active challenger in this respect is former Inter Milan team-mate Nicolas Burdisso, who is three behind on 20. Cambiasso was not the only player to celebrate a milestone as Inter beat Palermo 3-1 to retain the Coppa Italia, a competition in which they have reached the final in six of the last seven seasons. Dejan Stankovic lifted the trophy for the fifth time, one short of all-time record holder Roberto Mancini, while Goran Pandev came away with a winner’s medal for the third successive season, having also won the tournament in 2009 with Lazio.
straight national titles have established an impressive stranglehold by Goa, India’s smallest state, on their nation’s most coveted prize. Salgaocar, with their second championship and first since 1998/99, continued this run on Monday by crossing the I-League finishing line with a game to spare. State rivals Churchill Brothers and Dempo, who between them had won the past four national titles, were the challengers left disappointed, although they may find some consolation in the fact that Goa now boasts seven championships, one more than the traditional footballing heartland of Kolkata. Furthermore, if both Churchill and Dempo – 14-0 winners over Air India on Monday – win their final games of the season, this Goan trio will claim the league’s top three places for the first time in its existence.
goals in his last two matches have taken Robbie Keane on to 49 goals for Republic of Ireland, equalling Bobby Charlton’s record for the British and Irish Isles. It is now over six-and-a-half years since Keane became his country’s all-time leading marksman, and this season has seen him score more international goals (5) than in club action for Tottenham Hotspur (1) and West Ham United (3) combined. The 30-year-old’s double against Northern Ireland and match-winner against Scotland secured victory for the Republic in the inaugural Nations Cup, which also involved Wales and has been staged at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. And while Charlton reached the 49-mark in 106 appearances, one fewer than Keane, the Irish captain has scored a greater percentage of his goals in competitive matches: 32 to the England icon’s 27.