Beijing breaks the mould
In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and 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, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. This latest review sees us bid a fond farewell to the best-supported Olympic Football Tournament in history and sympathise with a team from Barbados who conceded 29 goals in the space of just five days.
days after celebrating his 38th birthday, veteran centre-half David Weir proved there is life in the old dog yet by heading Rangers into the lead at Aberdeen on Saturday. However, despite becoming world football's oldest goalscorer in the same week he won his 61st Scotland cap, Weir watched his opener cancelled out as Rangers warmed up for the first Old Firm derby of the Scottish season on Sunday by dropping two points at Pittodrie. At the other end of the age spectrum, Zurich striker Admir Mehmedi - some 21 years Weir's junior - became the week's youngest scorer when he rounded off a 3-1 win away to Sion. The Macedonian-born Swiss youth international first came to prominence in April when he scored all three of his team's goals in the final of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, and is considered one of his adopted country's rising stars.
years after Hungary became the third and, until Saturday, last men's team to successfully defend their title, Argentina created their own piece of Olympic history by holding on to the crown they won for the first time at Athens 2004. Great Britain (1908/12) and Uruguay (1924/28) had managed this feat before the Hungarians made it two in a row in 1968, but Argentina's achievement is unique in the modern era, as indeed is that of their midfield general, Javier Mascherano. After all, by starring in Athens and Beijing, the Liverpool anchorman became the first Argentinian - in any sport - to win two Olympic medals, and his quiet, selfless industry was once again key to the Albiceleste's success. Argentina have now won 11 of their 18 FIFA world finals and, in edging out the brave Nigerians, the South Americans also broke their own Olympic record by racking up a 12th successive victory.
goals conceded in just two games made last week a particularly disastrous one for Barbados' basement boys Tudor Bridge. It began badly enough last Tuesday with an 11-0 reverse to Maxwell, but if the Premier League's bottom club thought that was as bad as it could get, they were very much mistaken. That's because, on Sunday, they returned from a match at leaders Notre Dame having been on the receiving end of a humiliating 18-1 defeat. Yet despite these heavy losses - and a goal difference of minus-49 - Tudor Bridge's cause is not hopeless, with second-bottom Youth Milan just three points better off.
successive home wins, their best-ever run in the Premier League, is the record with which Liverpool enter this evening's vital UEFA Champions League qualifier against Standard Liege. Rafael Benitez's star-studded side were fortunate to emerge with a 0-0 draw from the first leg in Belgium, but missing from their starting line-up on that occasion was Saturday's inspirational match-winner, Steven Gerrard. Not for the first time, the Reds captain popped up in injury time in front of the fabled Kop to fire home a brilliantly-executed winner, and in doing so equalled the nine-game winning run established between April and November 1990. Gerrard now wants Anfield to become a fortress. "Last season we only lost once at home but had too many draws," he admitted on Saturday. "You need your home form to be immaculate."
million fans clicked through the turnstiles during the Men and Women's Olympic Football Tournaments, making Beijing 2008 the best-attended Olympics on record. This fantastic level of support ensured that it comfortably surpassed the previous record of 1.82 million set at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, further underlining the Chinese people's passion for the beautiful game. The fans were certainly treated to some sparkling football, but intriguingly the goals-to-games average for both the men's and women's tournaments was down on previous editions. The women managed just 2.54 goals-per-game, an all-time low, compared to 2.75 in 2004, while the men fared even worse, with 2.33 a significant drop from the Athens average of 3.16.