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.
In this week's review, we look back at a couple of landmark goals in La Liga, reflect on a big-spending month in England and pay tribute to the evergreen Pavel Nedved and Ghana's triumphant U-20s.
Spanish league goals was the milestone reached by Barcelona on Sunday when they came from behind at Racing Santander to clinch a ninth successive top flight win. It was also fitting that, just a fortnight ahead of the 80th anniversary of Manuel Parera scoring the Catalans' first ever Primera Division goal, it should be Lionel Messi who claimed this landmark strike. The iconic Argentinian is in irrepressible form at the moment and, after equalising with Barcelona's 4,999th league goal, he secured all three points - and another notable milestone for his club - by volleying home his 16th goal of the season. Pep Guardiola's side have now gone 20 Liga games without defeat and sit 12 points clear of a Real Madrid side who nonetheless witnessed a milestone of their own at the weekend, with Raul scoring his 307th goal and equalling Alfredo Di Stefano's record tally.
million pounds is the record amount that was splashed out by English Premier League clubs during the January transfer window. Even with the country firmly in the grip of a recession, England's top flight clubs still comfortably eclipsed the combined outlay of £146m in January of last year and dwarfed the £63m paid out in 2007. It certainly seems a long time since 'only' £35m was spent by Premier League clubs when the transfer window system was first introduced in 2003. Andrei Arshavin, Craig Bellamy, Wilson Palacios and Nigel de Jong numbered among some of the more extravagant deals, but the biggest headline-grabber was Robbie Keane's £12 million return to Tottenham Hotspur, taking the Irish striker's running tally of transfer fees to a staggering £70.3 million.
Bundesliga campaigns have witnessed Bayern Munich looking in on the top three at this stage of the season on only nine previous occasions. Worryingly for the Bavarian giants, in only one of those seasons, 1993/94, were they able to battle back in the second half of the campaign to claim the title. Memories of last season, when Bayern led the table from the first matchday to the last, are certainly all the more distant after the team resumed their title defence with a 1-0 defeat at Hamburg. However, although this result saw the champions leapfrogged by their conquerors, Jurgen Klinsmann's side do remain with three points of leaders Hoffenheim.
years after making his senior debut for Dukla Prague, Pavel Nedved underlined his enduring talent by becoming the week's oldest goalscorer at 36 years and 153 days. The veteran Czech looked to have set Juve en route to a vital victory too when he put them 2-1 up against Cagliari on Saturday with half-time approaching. However, just days after losing 2-1 to an Udinese team that hadn't won a Serie A match since October, Claudio Ranieri's side succumbed to an equally embarrassing 3-2 defeat at the hands of Cagliari team whose last victory in Turin had come over four decades ago in November 1968. Inter Milan's subsequent 1-1 draw at home to Torino keeps the Bianconeri in the title race, but they are now seven points adrift and have surrendered second place to AC Milan.
nations have now qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2008 after the African Youth Championship boosted the host continent's contingent to five. With Egypt guaranteed a spot, Ghana led the charge to join the Pharaohs, claiming a well-deserved 2-0 final win over Cameroon, who also booked their spot along with semi-finalists Nigeria and South Africa. It was the Black Satellites' first triumph at this tournament since 1999, their third overall, and with the AFC, OFC and UEFA participants also determined, it leaves CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to decide the final eight qualifiers for the September showpiece.