UEFA.com's resident statistician picks 50 favourite facts and figures from a season that has thrown up record goal hauls, winning runs, unbeaten streaks and a final to savour.
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This season's UEFA Europa League has thrown up record goal hauls, winning runs and unbeaten sequences. UEFA.com's resident statistitian picks out 50 of his favourite facts and figures and stresses that when it comes to experience in this competition, Chelsea FC have nothing on SL Benfica, their opponents in Amsterdam on 15 May.
1. For the first time in a UEFA Europa League group stage none of the 48 competing teams won all six of their group stage matches, a feat achieved by FC Salzburg (2009/10), FC Zenit St Petersburg (2010/11) and RSC Anderlecht (2011/12).
2. Group I winners Olympique Lyonnais claimed the most points, 16, after five wins and one draw. There were five other unbeaten sides: KRC Genk, FC Rubin Kazan, S.S. Lazio and Tottenham Hotspur FC and Hannover 96.
3. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, the Group F winners, scored the most goals – 16, registering at least two in every match. The next most prolific teams were Lyon and BSC Young Boys, with 14 goals apiece.
4. Young Boys failed to qualify, losing out on head-to-head record in a three-way Group A tussle with Liverpool FC and FC Anji Makhachkala. Their ten-point total bettered that of five teams who advanced from other groups, the lowest successful tally being that of VfB Stuttgart, who went through as Group E runners-up with just eight points.
5. Eight clubs won all three home matches: Anji, FC Viktoria Plzeň, Club Atlético de Madrid, FC Girondins de Bordeaux, Dnipro, Rubin, Lyon and FC Metalist Kharkiv. However, only one side claimed maximum points from their three away fixtures – Group C winners Fenerbahçe SK; they registered just four points in Istanbul.
6. The best defences belonged to Lazio and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who conceded just two goals in their six matches (the German club repeating their 2010/11 feat). Both teams kept clean sheets in all three home fixtures – as did Anji, Bordeaux and Rubin.
7. None of the 48 teams lost all six matches. The lowest points total was two, registered by Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC in Group I.
8. A total of 379 goals were scored in the group stage's 144 matches (at an average of 2.63 per game). Some 41 came in Group F (Dnipro, SSC Napoli, PSV Eindhoven and AIK) – four fewer than the record tally of 45.
9. The most goals scored on a matchday were the 75 registered during the second round of matches. There were a record-equalling 12 in Group C alone, as Olympique de Marseille defeated AEL Limassol FC 5-1 and Fenerbahçe won 4-2 at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
10. Edinson Cavani scored all four goals in Napoli's 4-2 home win against Dnipro – an exploit achieved just once before, by Falcao for FC Porto against Villarreal CF in the 2010/11 semi-finals. Cavani led the competition's goal charts with seven at the end of the group stage despite starting only three matches.
11. Including Cavani's four-goal salvo against Dnipro, there were five hat-tricks in the group stage, the fastest of them by Tim Matavž (30 minutes) in PSV's 3-1 win at Napoli on matchday six. Raul Bobadilla (Young Boys), Eduardo Vargas (Napoli) and Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) scored the others.
12. Cavani registered the UEFA Europa League's 2,000th goal with his added-time winner from the penalty spot against AIK on matchday five.
13. Atlético prolonged their competition record of successive victories to 15 during the group stage before losing 2-0 at A. Académica de Coimbra. No other club has managed more than six consecutive wins in the competition. Atlético also extended their record run of successive home wins to ten with maximum points in three games at the Vicente Calderón.
14. The competition record for most successive home games without a defeat was extended by Sporting Clube de Portugal, who despite their elimination prolonged the sequence, which began with their very first UEFA Europa League home fixture, to 19 matches.
15. Pavel Horváth of Viktoria Plzeň became the UEFA Europa League's oldest scorer during the group stage, raising the mark to 37 years and 214 days with his penalty at Académica on matchday five. On the same night Sander Boschker, the FC Twente goalkeeper, became the oldest UEFA Europa League participant, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw away to Hannover at the age of 42 years and 33 days.
Round of 32
16. All four German clubs present in the group stage – Mönchengladbach, Stuttgart, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hannover – qualified for the knockout phase. England and Italy also had a 100% success rate, with all three of their clubs progressing.
17. With the addition of the eight clubs transferred from the UEFA Champions League, 16 nations were represented in the round of 32: England, Germany (four clubs); Italy, Russia, Ukraine (three); Czech Republic, France, Romania, Spain (two); Belarus, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey (one).
18. The arrival of Belarusian club FC BATE Borisov for the knockout phase meant that for the first time 26 nations participated in a UEFA Europa League campaign, group stage to final. In each of the previous three seasons 25 nations had been represented.
19. Twelve clubs competed in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase for the first time: Chelsea, CFR 1907 Cluj, Newcastle United FC, Anji, FC Internazionale Milano, Levante UD, Mönchengladbach, Genk, Girondins, Dnipro, Lyon and Tottenham.
20. Chelsea, the UEFA Champions League holders, were the only one of the 32 participating teams to have never previously competed in the UEFA Europa League. They were joined in the field by five other previous winners of the European Champion Clubs' Cup – Inter, Liverpool, Benfica, AFC Ajax and FC Steaua Bucureşti.
21. Holders Atlético were one of eight clubs in the field who have never been European champions but have won one of the other major UEFA club competitions. The others were Zenit, FC Dynamo Kyiv, Leverkusen, Mönchengladbach, Lazio, Tottenham and Napoli. Newcastle won the non-UEFA-backed Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
22. There were six reigning domestic champions competing in the round of 32: BATE (Belarus), CFR Cluj (Romania), Olympiacos FC (Greece), Zenit (Russia), Ajax (Netherlands) and FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland).
23. Although it was insufficient to keep holders Atlético in the competition beyond the round of 32, Falcao's consolation strike in the 1-0 win at Rubin extended his record tally of UEFA Europa League goals to 30 (in 31 appearances).
24. After 108 previous knockout phase ties without one, the UEFA Europa League had its first penalty shoot-out as Steaua overcame Ajax following a pair of 2-0 home wins. Steaua were the only team in the round of 32 to go through to the last 16 after losing the first leg. It was only the second time in the UEFA Europa League that a side had recovered from a two-goal first-leg deficit to qualify (the first being Fulham FC's comeback from 1-3 to win 4-1 at home against Juventus in the 2009/10 round of 32).
25. Russia enjoyed a perfect round of 32, with all three representatives – Anji, Zenit and Rubin – advancing; neighbours Ukraine endured the opposite fate as Dnipro, FC Metalist Kharkiv and Dynamo Kyiv were all eliminated without winning a match. Interest in the competition also ended for Belarus, Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands, while Germany lost three of their four representatives.
Round of 16
26. The round of 16 featured teams from 11 UEFA member associations. Eight nations had a single representative, with England and Russia both boasting three teams and Italy two. Only three of the eight teams that transferred from the UEFA Champions League after the group stage made it through to the last 16 – Benfica, Chelsea and Zenit.
27. For the first time in four seasons of the UEFA Europa League, the advantage in the round of 16 went to the teams playing at home second. Five of the eight teams hosting the return leg went through. The number in previous seasons was four in 2009/10 and three apiece in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
28. The final 100% home record in the 2012/13 competition ended as Bordeaux lost 2-3 at home to Benfica. Tottenham's 4-1 defeat in Milan also ended their unbeaten run in the competition, leaving Lazio as the only surviving team from the group stage with an unbeaten record (ten matches) going into the quarter-finals.
29. Benfica were the only one of the quarter-finalists to have reached that stage of the competition before. Their third qualification for the last eight – out of three UEFA Europa League participations – set a new landmark, surpassing the two previous last-eight appearances of Atlético and Valencia CF.
30. Five nations' interest in the competition ended in the round of 16: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Romania and Spain. Levante's elimination by Rubin meant that Spain did not have a team in the quarter-finals for the first time, leaving Portugal as the only country to have featured in the last eight in every one of the UEFA Europa League's four seasons. Italy, Switzerland and Turkey all took teams into the quarter-finals for the first time.
31. The quarter-finals featured teams from six UEFA member associations for the first time; in all three previous editions five nations had been involved. The only country with multiple representation was England, with three teams, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle. There had been no English quarter-finalists in either 2010/11 or 2011/12.
32. The final unbeaten record in the 2012/13 competition for a club involved from the start of the group stage ended as Lazio, after ten games without defeat, lost 2-0 to Fenerbahçe in Istanbul. Lazio became the first team, out of 32 participants, to fail to score in the first leg of a UEFA Europa League quarter-final.
33. This is the first season in which all four semi-finalists came from different member associations. Benfica's qualification meant that Portugal matched Spain's record of providing five semi-finalists. Together Spain and Portugal provided all four in both 2010/11 and 2011/12.
34. Chelsea became the third team from England to reach the last four, while Switzerland and Turkey, through Basel and Fenerbahçe respectively, were represented at the semi-final stage for the first time.
35. None of the four teams that advanced to the semi-finals had previously won either the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League, and Basel and Fenerbahçe were both in a European semi-final for the first time.
36. Benfica set a new UEFA Europa League record in the first leg of the semi-final with their 21st appearance in the knockout phase of the competition. They had previously been tied on 20 with two-time winners Atlético.
37. David Luiz's added-time winner at Basel enabled Chelsea to become the first to win the opening leg of a UEFA Europa League semi-final away from home.
38. For the first time in four seasons both semi-finals were won by the team hosting the second leg. In each of the previous three campaigns one semi-final was won in the second leg by the hosts and the other by the visiting team.
39. Benfica pair Eduardo Salvio and Óscar Cardozo both set new competition records in the second leg of the semi-finals, the former making an unprecedented 33rd appearance (20 times for Atlético and 13 for Benfica) and the latter raising his goal tally to 19, a new competition high for a player representing a single club. He had previously shared the record with Falcao, who scored 17 of his 30 UEFA Europa League goals for Porto.
40. Benfica's 3-1 win at home to Fenerbahçe extended the Lisbon club's unbeaten home record in the competition to 14 matches (13 wins, one draw). Their ninth successive home win leaves them one short of Atlético's record while at the same time preventing Fenerbahçe from setting a new competition high themselves with a seventh successive away fixture without defeat. Instead the Turkish team share the record on six with Atlético, Porto and PAOK FC.
41. The two finalists, Benfica and Chelsea, both transferred over to the competition from the UEFA Champions League after the group stage. They will be hoping to emulate the feat of inaugural winners Atlético, who won the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League after also entering in the knockout phase.
42. Benfica's appearance in the final is the third by a Portuguese club, each of them different (following the Porto v SC Braga contest in 2011). Spain have also had three finalists, but only two clubs have achieved the feat (Atlético and Athletic Club). Chelsea are the second English participant, after west London rivals Fulham FC in 2010.
43. There have been seven goals scored in the three previous UEFA Europa League finals, all but one of them by South American players – Falcao (Colombia, three), Diego Forlán (Uruguay, two) and Diego (Brazil, one). The only European goalscorer was Fulham's Simon Davies, a Welshman, in the 2009/10 final – the only goal scored by a losing team.
44. There has never been a red card in a UEFA Europa League final, although 17 yellow cards were issued in the first three contests.
45. The youngest UEFA Europa League champion is David de Gea, who was aged 19 years and 186 days when Atlético defeated Fulham in 2010; the oldest was also a goalkeeper, Helton, who captained Porto to victory over Braga in 2011 on his 34th birthday. Chelsea trio Nathan Aké (youngest) and Paulo Ferreira or Frank Lampard (oldest) could set new marks.
46. Benfica forward Salvio, who has played in more UEFA Europa League matches than any other player (33), could become the first player to win the competition three times, having claimed a winner's medal twice previously with Atlético. Seven other players have won it twice, though only one with different clubs – Falcao.
47. There is little to choose between the two finalists' UEFA Europa league form going into Amsterdam. Benfica have won six of their eight knockout phase matches, drawing and losing one each, whereas Chelsea have posted five wins, one draw and two defeats. The Portuguese club also have a marginally better aggregate goal difference, with 14 for and seven against compared to Chelsea's 15 for and nine against.
48. Chelsea had a better record in the UEFA Champions League group stage, claiming ten points from three wins, one draw and two defeats; Benfica finished with eight points, winning, drawing and losing twice. The Blues' goal difference was 16-10, the Lisbon side's 5-5.
49. The leading scorer in the competition is Lazio's Libor Kozák, with eight goals. Benfica's Cardozo (six) and Chelsea's Fernando Torres (five) are the only realistic candidates to dislodge the Czech striker and prevent him from becoming the competition's first top scorer from Europe. Cardozo was the joint top marksman in the inaugural 2009/10 competition, his nine goals putting him alongside SV Werder Bremen's Claudio Pizarro.
50. For the first time in the four stagings of the UEFA Europa League, the competition will conclude without a single encounter between two teams of the same country.