Spot-kicks, sackings and Allicadabra
'The Little Witch' unravels old records in La Plata
A young magician cracks new ones in London
Axe-wielding at a rapid rate
A long streak of domination and an Argentinian legend's return to the pitch feature in FIFA.com’s latest stats review, along with a new milestone for a prodigy in north London, the end of an impressive spot-kick run, and a teenager making all the headlines on Europe's greatest stage.
straight UEFA Champions League games: that is, incredibly, what Bayern Munich had enjoyed the majority of possession in until Real Madrid ruined the streak with 52 per cent of the ball at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. The last time Bayern had lost in the possessional stakes had been in a 3-0 win away to Barcelona in 2013 (47 per cent). Bayern were leading and enjoying more possession when Arturo Vidal missed the chance to put them 2-0 up from the spot in first-half stoppage time. Within two minutes of the restart, Cristiano Ronaldo had ended his longest goalscoring drought in the Champions League at 659 minutes. After a Javi Martinez red card left Bayern at a numerical disadvantage, the 32-year-old Portuguese extended his record tally of goals in the competition to 97 – 20 having come against German opposition – to snatch a 2-1 win for Real. It ended Bayern’s run of 17 successive home victories in the Champions League.
years and one month was the age at which Juan Sebastian Veron became the fifth-oldest player in Copa Libertadores history on Tuesday. ‘The Little Witch’ had not kicked a ball competitively, due to a ban he incurred in 2011, since coming out of retirement during 2016. By ending his inactivity against Barcelona, however, Veron became the first club president to play in the Libertadores and dropped Oscar Aguirregaray – coincidentally the father of his Estudiantes team-mate Matias – into sixth place on its list of most-senior players. Veron also outranked Hugo Gatti to become the oldest Argentinian to appear in the competition. Only Faryd Mondragon (42 years and ten months), Ze Roberto (42 years and eight months), Ever Almeida and Rogerio Ceni (both 42 years and three months) had been older than the 73-times-capped Argentina playmaker, who is admirably donating all his wages to Estudiantes’ development. Barcelona nevertheless spoiled the occasion for Veron, inflicting a third straight Libertadores defeat on Estudiantes for only the second time in their history.
combined goals and assists in the English Premier League is what Dele Alli reached before his 21st birthday on Tuesday, smashing the record for a non-forward owned by Ronaldo (25) and equalling the cumulative totals of David Beckham (12), Steven Gerrard (13) and Frank Lampard (15). The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder’s stunning strike in the 4-0 win over Watford on Saturday was his 26th in the English top flight, while he also has 14 assists to his name – the Portuguese, who operated as a winger for Manchester United, scored 14 and set up 11 before he was 21. If Alli, who has 13 goals in his last 15 appearances, can net four times in Spurs’ remaining seven games, he will become only the fifth non-forward to reach the 20-goal barrier in a Premier League season after Ronaldo (31), Lampard (22), Gareth Bale (21) and Yaya Toure (20).
consecutive penalties: that is what Fabinho had scored until he missed his first for Monaco on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Brazilian’s mistake ensured Monaco tied the Champions League record of spurning four successive spot-kicks, a mark shared by Anderlecht (2001-13) and PSV (2004-16). Heading into this campaign, Dado Prso had fluffed their previous one – albeit 13 years ago – against Lokomotiv Moscow. This season, despite Fabinho’s 100-per-cent record, Falcao assumed penalty-taking duties in the Champions League, only to be denied by Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris in November and Manchester City’s Willy Caballero in February. And though Fabinho fired wide from 12 yards away to Borussia Dortmund, Kylian Mbappe became, at 18 years and 113 days, the youngest player to score twice in a knockout game in the tournament to inspire Leonardo Jardim’s men to a 3-2 win. Monaco duly became only the second side to score three times in back-to-back away games in the knockout phase of a UEFA Champions League campaign, after a Stefan Effenberg-inspired Bayern Munich in 1999.
Quick hits 5 coaches have now lost the Argentina reins in less than seven years after Edgardo Bauza was sacked following just eight matches in charge – as many as they had over 30 years from 1974 to 2004 (Cesar Luis Menotti, Carlos Bilardo, Alfio Basile, Daniel Passarella and Marcelo Bielsa).
5 coaches have occupied the Palermo reins in the last seven months after Diego Lopez was dismissed and replaced with Diego Bortoluzzi.