With a week of entertaining, surprising and extraordinary games for the English teams in Europe behind us, it’s time to get out your trainspotter’s pad, don that kagoul and get your nerd on – it’s the Football Diaries’ much-anticipated, widely-admired and utterly essential European Stat Attack.
AC Milan 0-0 TOTTENHAM
Sandro won all eight of the tackles that he attempted vs Milan on Wednesday. Only four players have won more in a CL game this term.
The stat above is representative of the excellent progress being made by Brazil’s former Under-20 captain Sandro at Tottenham. Having only arrived in England in September, the strong midfielder has shown real class and defensive astuteness in the games against Milan. His form is such that Tom Huddlestone will have a real battle on his hands to reclaim his place when he returns from his long lay-off.
Tottenham Hotspur have never lost at home in the Champions League/European Cup (including qualifiers), winning seven times and drawing twice.
‘Arry’s Spurs have an excellent record at home in the Champions League and it’s no surprise when you consider Tottenham’s all-time results in Europe’s top club competition. Indeed, in all European competition Spurs have played 70 games at White Hart Lane, won 54 and only lost 3. Still, if Barcelona come calling in the quarter-finals, I doubt they’ll be too worried about that.
Barcelona 3-1 ARSENAL
Since Opta started analysing all Champions League games in 2003, Arsenal are the only team ever to record zero shots in a match.
Deary me, what a night for Arsenal fans. Despite the Gooners drawing 1-1 at one stage, and going through on aggregate at that point, Wenger’s men failed to have any shots on target. It summed up their night that it took a Barcelona own-goal by Sergio Busquets to allow Arsenal back into the game on 53 minutes, but some mesmerising play, a dodgy decision and two goals later – Arsenal were out 4-3.
Arsenal made 119 passes on Tuesday; compared to a total of 724 by Barcelona.
The pre-eminence of Barcelona on the European football scene is succinctly demonstrated in this stat. Against a team vying for the Premier League title with a reputation for classy, flowing football that can tear teams apart, Barcelona were completely and utterly dominant. For all of Wenger’s excuses about a dodgy sending off, Arsenal deserved nothing from a game in which the top 10 passers all played in blue and red. Who can stop the Catalonian juggernaut?
SC Braga 1-0 LIVERPOOL
Excl. qualifiers, Braga have won all 5 of the European games they’ve scored in this term, keeping a clean sheet each time.
While many in England took for granted a positive result for Liverpool in their match against unfancied Braga of Portugal, the stats backed the Portuguese side, who finished 2nd in last season’s Primeira Liga. It probably benefited Braga that they are largely an unknown quantity and their supposedly shock win against Dalglish’s Reds sets up an interesting return leg inLiverpool.
Liverpool have conceded just 5 goals in 13 European matches this term (including qualifiers).
It’s not all doom an gloom for Kopites though, their own record in Europe this season, while not sensational, had been built on a very solid defense. Conceding only just over 1 goal every 3 games, King Kenny’s side will fancy their chances of over-turning their first leg deficit at Anfield, with a new strike-force ready to punish any Portuguese errors.
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 MANCHESTER CITY
Man City have now only won 1 of their last 9 European away games (excluding qualifiers).
Although the conditions in Kiev, it was -6ºC, won’t have suited City, particularly their newly-shorn snood squad, they will have hoped for better than a 2-0 loss to the Ukrainian giants. However, when you look at the stats, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Mancini’s men failed to get a result; City’s results in Europe away from home will need to improve if they want to win the Europa League this year.
Man City have only lost 2 games at home all season, 3-0 to Arsenal and 2-1 to Everton.
Fortunately for City fans, the flip side of their poor away form is their excellent home form. Having suffered only two defeats at the City of Manchester Stadium this term, both of which were in the earlier part of the season, City will go into their tricky second leg against Kiev with confidence that they can come back from their first leg loss to register the resounding victory they need to take them to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Phew, that’s quite enough nerd-alerting for now, but for more barefaced stattage, rumours, thoughts and theories, follow me onTwitter: @footballdiaries