In England, Liverpool FC's Daniel Sturridge is closing in on Ruud van Nistelrooy's record of scoring in ten consecutive Premier League games; he can make it to nine with a goal against Southampton FC on Saturday. An impressive achievement, but he has a way to go to match the record holders in Europe's top six domestic leagues.
England: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United FC) – 10
The summer break did little to dull Van Nistelrooy's striking instincts in 2003 – he found the net in ten straight games, from a 2-0 win against Fulham FC on 22 March to a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United FC on 23 August: the last eight matches of one season and the first two of the next. "I can only be dangerous for the team in one place, and that is in the box," he said, summing up his modus operandi after his prolific run brought the Netherlands forward 15 goals. "Van Nistelrooy is a more decisive finisher," legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels commented when comparing him with Marco van Basten. "He is excellent at going for goal, and is quick and dangerous."
Portugal: Fernando Peyroteo (Sporting Clube de Portugal) – 10
One of Sporting's 'Cinco Violinos' (Five Violins), who helped the club dominate Portuguese football in the 1940s, Peyroteo announced himself in emphatic style in 1937/38, registering in each of the final ten games of his debut campaign. Even more remarkable was the fact he struck 31 times across those ten matches, averaging just over a hat-trick per appearance. That high scoring rate was no one-off: the Angolan-born attacker notched more goals than games played in all 12 seasons with the Leões, hitting a Sporting-record 297 goals before retiring at 31. "He was the most notable of all Portuguese centre-forwards," said Cândido de Oliveira, Peyroteo's club and national-team coach who handed the striker 20 caps which reaped 14 goals.
Italy: Gabriel Batistuta (ACF Fiorentina) – 11
"I have made Italian football history," beamed Batistuta after netting in Fiorentina's 2-2 draw with UC Sampdoria on 27 November 1994 – his 11th successive scoring performance. "Maybe in 20 years you will come to my home in Reconquista [Argentina] because there will be a new Batistuta trying to beat my record." It has not happened yet. "I'm happy because nobody remembered my record until today," said ex-Bologna FC front man Ezio Pascutti, who had registered in ten straight games in 1962. "A royal bow and bye bye Pascutti," wrote Gazzetta dello Sport. "Batistuta beat Walter Zenga with a penalty but this was a special goal with 40,000 people on their feet in delirium and 'Batigol' saluting them with a royal bow towards the Curva Fiesole."
France: Serge Masnaghetti (Valenciennes FC) – 13
There is no official record in France for goals in consecutive fixtures, but Masnaghetti is commonly regarded as having set the mark, striking in 13 successive matchdays in 1962/63. In those 13 games, from 16 December 1962 to 21 April 1963, he claimed 17 goals, including a six-minute hat-trick against OGC Nice. That season brought 35 of his 111 career goals, which remains a club record despite the twice-capped French international having to retire early due to heart disease. The great Jean-Pierre Papin would later feel the force of Masnaghetti's tongue during his own days at Valenciennes when he suggested that "scoring was easier in the old days". "Do you think defenders let me go because I was a nice guy?" smirked Masnaghetti.
Germany: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern München) – 16
From 27 September 1969, when he grabbed Bayern's third in a 4-0 triumph at TSV Eintracht Braunschweig, to 3 March 1970, when his effort could not prevent Bayern losing 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt, the master poacher found the target in 16 Bundesliga games running. Highlights included all four Bayern goals in a 4-1 win against SV Werder Bremen and a treble in a 3-1 success at Borussia Dortmund. Not a prime physical specimen – Bayern coach Zlatko Čajkovski affectionately called him 'kleines dickes Müller' (little fat Müller) – his goalscoring remains the stuff of legend. "Bayern have Gerd Müller to thank for what the club has become," said Franz Beckenbauer. "Without Gerd's goals, we'd still be sitting in a wood hut at Säbener Strasse [training ground]."
Spain: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) – 21
Carrying a thigh injury, Messi began Barcelona's 34th Liga match of the 2012/13 campaign on the bench against Real Betis Balompié. With his side struggling to overcome the challenge of stubborn visitors, the Argentina ace was summoned and duly delivered – notching his 45th and 46th top-flight goals of the season in a 4-2 victory which extended his Liga scoring streak to 21 games in a row. The four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner had earlier obliterated Ronaldo's previous best of ten on the bounce, from 1996/97 with Barcelona. "Yes there is 'Messi-dependency' because he is crucial to this team," Andrés Iniesta said. "Having him alongside us always makes things positive."
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