- Messi and Ronaldo made yet more milestones this year
- Golden Balls, wunderkinds and a dinosaur star
- Who was international football’s top marksmen of 2018?
goals and assists (47 and 23 respectively) is what Lionel Messi managed in all competitions in 2018 – a high for a player based in Europe’s top five leagues. Remarkably, ten of those came from direct free-kicks in La Liga – an all-time record in a calendar year in the competition.
successive victories on sand is what Brazil had extinguished in a 6-5 defeat by Russia in November’s Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup semi-finals. The Brazilians’ previous defeat had, coincidentally, been 6-5 to the Russians after extra time in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 quarter-finals.
years is what Ferenc Puskas had reigned as Europe’s leading international marksman until Cristiano Ronaldo outranked him thanks to a superb hat-trick against Spain and a stooping header against Morocco. By finding the target at Russia 2018, CR7 became the first player in history to score in nine consecutive major international tournaments: four World Cups, four UEFA EUROs and a FIFA Confederations Cup. Only Iranian Ali Daei (109) has more international goals than Ronaldo (85).
seasons is what Hamburg had played in the Bundesliga until they became the last founding members to be relegated in May. The only founding members of one of Europe’s big five leagues to have never been relegated are Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, Real Madrid (all 88 seasons) and Inter Milan (87).
and 11 months was the age at which George Weah, Liberia’s President, represented his country in a 2-1 defeat by Nigeria – 31 years after his international debut.
years had passed since a team had overturned a two-goal deficit and won a knockout-phase match at the World Cup until Belgium rallied to stun Japan 3-2. West Germany had been the last with a 3-2 win over England at Mexico 1970, albeit with the aid of extra time.
matches is what the USA women's team navigated to finish a calendar year unbeaten for only the fourth time in history (minimum ten matches). Alex Morgan hit 18 goals in 19 international for her best-ever strike ratio in a calendar year (0.95).
goals in just 12 appearances is what Jamaica forward Khadija Shaw, 21, hit to finish as the leading markswomen across all six FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifying zones.
was the age at which Cerro Porteno’s Fernando Ovelar became the youngest player and youngest scorer in the Paraguayan Primera Division’s 112-year history. The occasion for the latter? No less than the Superclásico against Olimpia.
goals in 14 games makes Romelu Lukaku – the adidas Bronze Shoe winner at Russia 2018 – the top international marksman of 2018. The 25-year-old Belgian is followed by Aleksandar Mitrovic (12 in 13), Ayoub El Kaabi (11 in 13), Kylian Mbappe (9 in 18) and Harry Kane (8 in 12), Mo Salah (7 in 6) and Michy Batshuayi (7 in 9).
years since Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo last failed to claim FIFA’s top individual award, Luka Modric broke the duopoly by bagging The Best FIFA Men’s Player in London. The Croatia midfielder, following Brazil’s Ronaldo in 1998, Germany’s Oliver Kahn in 2002, France’s Zinedine Zidane in 2006, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan in 2010 and Argentina’s Lionel Messi in 2014, had ensured six successive adidas Golden Ball winners failed to win that year’s FIFA World Cup™.
successive World Cup Finals have featured a player from both Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Inter pair Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic, and Bayern’s Corentin Tolisso, continued the trend in the Moscow decider.
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final appearances is what Japan and Spain had between them before they made the France 2018 decider. Hinata Miyazawa became the first player in ten years to score from outside the box in the fixture – USA strike partners Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan both managed it in 2008 – to help the Young Nadeshiko win 3-1.