At the halfway mark in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage there is plenty to digest – not least the goalscoring contributions of Arsenal FC and Samuel Eto'o. UEFA.com looks back over the first three matchdays to find some intriguing statistics.
Arsène Wenger's team have started like an express train in Group H and at their current scoring rate will surpass the 20-goal record established by Manchester United FC in 1998/99. United struck eleven times in their first three group games in a season that ended with them lifting the trophy. Arsenal have already managed 14 after putting six and five past SC Braga and FC Shakhtar Donetsk respectively, with another three at FK Partizan in between.
Ironically given United's history, they have netted only twice in three matches in Group C – the lowest tally among the eight group leaders – but fortunately for them they are also one of just two sides still to concede, along with José Mourinho's Real Madrid CF. The only club yet to score are the tournament debutants from Turkey, Bursaspor, who face United at home in their next encounter.
Eto'o leads way
On the individual scoring front Eto'o sets the pace by some distance having hit six goals in three games since reverting to a central striking role under new FC Internazionale Milano coach Rafael Benítez. Eto'o's haul includes a treble against SV Werder Bremen which made the ex-FC Barcelona forward the eighth player to register UEFA Champions League hat-tricks with two different clubs, after Filippo Inzaghi (Juventus and AC Milan), Roy Makaay (RC Deportivo La Coruña and FC Bayern München), Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United), Marco Simone (Milan and AS Monaco FC), Didier Drogba (Olympique de Marseille and Chelsea FC), Michael Owen (Liverpool FC and Manchester United), Andriy Shevchenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv and AC Milan).
Bale makes hay
The other hat-trick so far actually came against Eto's Inter – from the left foot of 21-year-old tournament newcomer Gareth Bale in Tottenham Hotspur FC's 4-3 San Siro defeat on Matchday 3. Bale became the second player after the Brazilian Ronaldo to score a UEFA Champions League treble and finish on the losing side – although when Ronaldo's Real Madrid fell 4-3 at Manchester United in the 2003 quarter-finals, they advanced on aggregate. The Welshman is now level with Lionel Messi and Nicolas Anelka on four goals this campaign – a record bettered by Eto'o alone.
Culio helps out
As if Eto'o's value to Inter needed underlining, the Cameroonian also tops the assists table, with three alongside Juan Culio of CFR 1907 Cluj. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is that Eto'o's six goals have come from six attempts on target and in our Fantasy Football game he has racked up 39 points, 12 more than anyone else.
The Inter-Tottenham game produced one other pearl for statisticians when Javier Zanetti notched, at the age of 37 years and 71 days, his first goal in the competition since December 1998. Thus he became the UEFA Champions League's oldest marksman, overtaking Laurent Blanc who was 36 years and 339 days when scoring for Manchester United against Olympiacos FC in 2002.
If that was one for the oldsters, Charis Mavrias struck a blow for youth when becoming the second youngest player in the competition's post-1992 history by appearing for the final 12 minutes of Panathinaikos FC's goalless draw with FC Rubin Kazan aged 16 years and 242 days. The holder of that particular record remains Celestine Babayaro who was 16 years and 87 days when turning out for RSC Anderlecht against FC Steaua Bucureşti in 1994.
Points on the board
What matters more than anything, of course, is the number of points each team has on the board and there are five clubs entering Matchday 4 with a chance of booking last-16 places with two games to spare – Olympique Lyonnais, Bayern, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Arsenal. An identical number of clubs find themselves in the rather less enviable position of having nul points – Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, Bursaspor, MŠK Žilina, AJ Auxerre and Partizan.
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