Ageless icons’ fresh feats
This week, centre stage goes to 37-year-old duo Ryan Giggs and Javier Zanetti, while yet more Barcelona records, a long-awaited Scottish Cup tie and the ending of a few Ligue 1 droughts also come into FIFA.com's focus.
league appearances was the milestone reached by Ryan Giggs at White Hart Lane on Sunday. The veteran Welshman has already featured more times for Manchester United in all competitions than any other player, although he remains six short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record tally of league games. Giggs is the only player to have played in all 11 of Manchester United's Premier League-winning campaigns, and no-one else has scored in each of the championship's 19 seasons. The 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur – which extended the Londoners’ decade-long wait for a win over United - was memorable for different reasons for Rafael, who became the first Red Devils player in 340 days to be sent off in the Premier League. The Brazilian and his twin brother Fabio now account for three of the nine red cards United have picked up in the last two seasons.
minutes without a goal at the Stade Velodrome was the frustrating wait that came to an end for Andre-Pierre Gignac on Sunday. The €18m striker’s effort in a 2-1 victory over Bordeaux was his first at home in all competitions since he joined Marseille over five months ago. And Gignac wasn’t the only Ligue 1 star breathing a sigh of relief at the weekend, with Youseff El-Arabi’s 81st-minute penalty in a 3-1 win at Brest ending a 446-minute drought for the Caen talisman. As for Yann M’Vila, another of the league’s star performers, he finally opened his account for Rennes at the 54th time of asking, slotting home from the spot in the 90th minute of a 4-0 victory over Arles.
points from 19 La Liga games is the tally that has enabled Barcelona to set a new record at this juncture of the Spanish season. The Catalans, who have also established an unprecedented goal difference of +50 , have become the first team to reach the halfway stage of a Liga campaign with more than 50 points. If Barça, who already have 61 league goals this season – averaging 3.21 per match – continue to score at their current rate, they will comfortably eclipse the current benchmark for a single campaign, set when Real Madrid racked up 107 in season 1989/90. They will also better their own record average of 3.17 goals per match, set 52 years ago in 1958/59. The defending champions, who surpassed their club record of 27 matches unbeaten by beating Malaga 4-1 on Sunday, are now just two wins away from setting a new La Liga record for successive victories (15).
weather-enforced postponements preceded the belated contesting of Thursday’s Scottish Cup third-round replay between Threave Rovers and Stenhousemuir. The tie, which was originally scheduled for 27 November, finally went ahead after continually falling victim to the snow and sub-zero temperatures that have plagued northern Europe. Remarkable though the delays were, they did not come close to threatening the British record for postponements, which was set – again in Scotland – during the harsh winter of 1963. That season, which ended with the English and Scottish authorities extending their league calendars by a month to accommodate all the rescheduled matches, witnessed Airdrie and Stranraer endure no fewer than 33 postponements before the former finally ran out 3-0 winners at the 34th time of asking.
more Serie A appearance is all that Javier Zanetti now requires to claim the Inter Milan club record after equalling Giuseppe Bergomi’s tally of 519. The 37-year-old, who debuted in Serie A on 27 August 1995 and made his 700th appearance in all competitions in May’s UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich, will surpass Bergomi’s benchmark if he features against Cesena this evening. Across the city, meanwhile, Gennaro Gattuso became the fifth active AC Milan player to reach 350 league appearances, following in the footsteps of Alessandro Nesta (390), Andrea Pirlo (371), Clarence Seedorf (366) and Filippo Inzaghi (362). However, the combative midfielder could not inspire his team to victory at Lecce, with a 1-1 draw extending I Rossoneri’s eight-year winless run at the Via Del Mare.