It’s been another unforgettable year on planet football, with Japan, Barcelona, Uruguay and Manchester United just a few of the biggest winners. As 2011 draws to a close, FIFA.com looks at the stats behind some of year’s most eye-catching events.
spectators watched hosts Mexico beat Uruguay 2-0 in July’s FIFA U-17 World Cup final at the Azteca, providing a fittingly raucous climax to a tournament that drew a cumulative attendance of 1,002,314.
international appearances, the most recent of which came in last month’s 2-0 defeat by Brazil, established Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan as the joint-most capped player in football history. The 36-year-old, who made his international debut in 1995, needs just one more Pharaohs outing to surpass the record of Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohamed Al Deayea, who last played in 2006.
matches over nine years, one month, ten days and four different clubs: this was the incredible unbeaten home league record that came to an unexpected end for Jose Mourinho in April. Manolo Preciado succeeded where 107 different coaches had failed as his Sporting Gijon side became the first team since Beira Mar in February 2002 to claim league points on Mourinho’s patch.
consecutive years of top-flight football was the run that came to a historic end for River Plate in June. The Buenos Aires giants were relegated for the first time after a 1-1 draw against Belgrano – their ninth straight match without a win – which sealed a 3-1 aggregate defeat in the Promoción play-off.
goals in the amazing combined tally with which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will end their 2011 club campaigns. The Ballon d’Or contenders have been in sensational form once again, with Ronaldo scoring 53 times in just 51 Real Madrid appearances, and Messi managing 55 in 57 for Barcelona.
years of patience were finally rewarded in October when Norway’s Molde capped their centenary season with the first league championship of the club’s history. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, the Blåhvit (Blue-Whites) cast aside a reputation as perennial bridesmaids, earned by seven previous second-placed finishes.
years of competing in FIFA tournaments finally yielded a trophy for Japan when they won the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in July. The Nadeshiko had lost 22 and drawn three of their 25 prior meetings with final rivals USA, but a dramatic penalty shootout triumph saw them become the first team to lose during FIFA’s women’s showpiece – 2-0 to England in their case – and go on to lift the trophy.
years without a league title was the drought that came to a long-awaited end for Lille in May. No team in the history of the French top flight had endured such a long wait in between championships, so it was with some relief that Rudi Garcia’s side clinched the third top-tier crown of the club’s history and their first since 1954.
goals was the new Spain national team record set in March by David Villa. The Barcelona striker, who has since reached the half-century mark, needed just 72 matches to surpass Raul as his country’s foremost marksman. Nor was Villa the only Roja record-breaker this year, with Iker Casillas setting a new benchmark for appearances, surpassing Andoni Zubizarreta’s previous mark with cap number 127 last month.
goals, the most recent of which came in October’s 1-1 draw with Paraguay, established Diego Forlan as Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer. The Inter Milan striker moved ahead of the legendary Hector Scarone, and earning his 84th cap in the same match enabled him to extend his already record tally of international appearances. Earlier in the year, Forlan had followed in the continent-conquering footsteps of his father and grandfather by helping Uruguay to a record 15th Copa America crown.
successive Brazil victories was the run that finally came to an end in September’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup final. Prior to their 12-8 defeat by Russia in the Ravenna 2011 decider, the Brazilians had survived unbeaten since losing on penalties to Portugal in the semi-finals of the 2005 edition.
matches without defeat was the run with which Boca Juniors ended their triumphant Apertura campaign two weeks ago, establishing them as the first team in the last 26 Argentinian championship campaigns to remain unbeaten until the end. Having leaked just six goals all season, Boca also equalled their own record for the fewest goals conceded since the current format was adopted in 1990.
wins, two draws and zero losses was the near-perfect record with which Porto clinched the title in April, enabling them to become only the second team – after the Benfica side of 1972/73 – to win the Portuguese championship without tasting defeat.
top-flight titles, the latest of which was secured in May of this year, established Manchester United as the most successful team in English league history, one ahead of old rivals Liverpool. The 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers that sealed this landmark championship also witnessed Ryan Giggs break David James’s Premier League appearance record by turning out for the 573rd time.
million euros was the fee Chelsea paid to release Andre Villas-Boas from his Porto contract in June, making him the most expensive coach in history. The month before, Villas-Boas – at 33 years and 213 days old – had become the youngest coach ever to win a European trophy by guiding Os Dragões to UEFA Europa League glory.
out of 16 is Barcelona’s amazing haul of major titles under Pep Guardiola after they returned the FIFA Club World Cup to their trophy cabinet earlier this month. The 4-0 final win over Santos was secured by a team that included 11 homegrown players, and Lionel Messi’s brace established the Barça No10 as the first player to score in separate FIFA Club World Cup finals.
goals were served up in August’s FIFA U-20 World Cup final, establishing the Colombia 2011 decider as the highest-scoring of the tournament’s 34-year history. Three of those goals came from one player, Brazil’s Oscar, who – having not managed a single goal in the preceding rounds – became the first player to score a hat-trick in the final.
AFC Asian Cup titles, the latest of which was secured in January, have established Japan as the most successful team in the competition’s history. By edging Australia 1-0 in the final, the Samurai Blue inched ahead of Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of whom have three Asian crowns to their name.
first-time finalists – Botswana, Niger and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea – will take part in the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations after a dramatic year of qualifying action in the Mother Contintent. The CAN preliminaries brought despair for several of the continent’s big guns, with only two winners from the competition’s previous 14 editions – Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia – doing enough to progress.