Shocks, celebrations and struggles for supremacy
FIFA.com’s latest stats review is dominated by the handing out of silverware, with the crowning of champions in Costa Rica, France, Romania and South Africa featuring alongside cup joy for Napoli and Chelsea’s continental conquest.
Costa Rican league titles was the landmark reached by Herediano on Saturday, ending the longest drought in the club’s history. The last time El Team Florense claimed their national crown – 19 years ago in season 1992/93 – they were their country’s record champions. Since then, they have fallen to third on the all-time list, behind Saprissa (29) and Alajuelense (27), who have won either the Apertura or Clausura 11 and ten times respectively during the intervening period. Indeed, no club in the world has won more national titles and still found itself worse off than two of its rivals historically, with Malta’s Valletta (21) and Ujpest of Hungary (20) the closest.
different clubs have now won Ligue 1 after Montpellier swelled the ranks of this exclusive French club on Sunday. The southern outfit – 14th last season – became the first new French champions since Lyon a decade ago, and the fifth in the past 26 years (Paris Saint-Germain 1985/86, Auxerre 1995/96, Lens 1997/98). The final weekend also proved memorable for Eden Hazard, who signed off in French football with the first Ligue 1 hat-trick of his career. Lille’s sought-after Belgian star has scored 20 goals and provided 15 assists in the French top flight this season, more combined than any other player. Indeed, across Europe’s major leagues, Lionel Messi was the only other player who provided 15 or more goals and assists. Hazard has certainly contributed impressively to a Ligue 1 season that has produced 956 goals - the highest tally for a single campaign since 979 were scored in 1984/85.
successive seasons have now passed since a Bucharest club became Romanian champions, this after CFR Cluj reclaimed the national title. Not since the 1920s, when the now-defunct Chinezul Timisoara topped the table six years in succession, has the championship endured such a long exile from Romania’s capital. Cluj have been primarily responsible for the Bucharest clubs’ drought, having topped the table in three of the last five years, and in between times there have also been maiden triumphs for Otelul Galati and Unirea Urziceni.
European Cup finals have now been held in Munich, and each has ended with a team winning its maiden title. By beating Bayern Munich on Saturday, Chelsea merely followed in the footsteps of Nottingham Forest (1979), Marseille (1993) and Borussia Dortmund (1997), all of whom won the continental crown for the first time in Bavaria’s capital. The Blues are the 22nd club to lift the European Cup, but the first from London, which becomes the sixth capital city - after Madrid (9), Amsterdam (4), Lisbon (2), Bucharest (1) and Belgrade (1) – to produce a winner of UEFA’s flagship club competition. Chelsea youngster Ryan Bertrand also became the first player to make his Champions League debut in the final. Bayern, meanwhile, lost on penalties for the first time in European competition after four previous shootout successes, and joined AC Milan and Juventus as the only three clubs to have lost three Champions League finals.
successive Coppa Italia titles with three separate clubs have now been won by Goran Pandev after Napoli lifted the trophy on Sunday. The Macedonian forward’s success with the Neapolitans – 2-0 victors over Juventus - follows on from victories with Lazio in 2009 and Inter Milan in 2010 and 2011. Pandev may have grown accustomed to cup success, but this was a notable triumph for Napoli, especially as the trophy had only been taken to the south of Italy on three prior occasions – the last of which was 25 years ago. The achievement was all the more impressive as their opponents went into the match unbeaten in 42 matches, and suffered their first and only defeat of the season in their final competitive outing.
Premier Soccer League title is all that now stands between rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs after the former further reduced the gap on Saturday. A run of nine games without defeat was enough to see the Buccaneers retain their crown on the final day, pipping by just two points a lesser-known Soweto outfit. Moroka Swallows had themselves ended the season on an even more impressive 12-match unbeaten streak, but it came just too late to earn the Dube Birds a first PSL title. Orlando Pirates, on the other hand, have now lifted the trophy nine times since the league’s formation in 1971 and start next season aiming to draw level with the Chiefs’ record tally of ten.
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