PUN-ting ahead 18 (24 Oct – 27 Oct/14) – “JUST FOR THE RECORD(s)” Edition

Just For The Record

Oh what difference a week can make!  After scraping the barrel last weekend to PUNt a handful of decent fixture, this week sees a seemingly record number of eye-catching, top-of-the-table clashes to zero in on.   So with loads to get through allow me to get away from this time-wasting corner flag position and swiftly state my oPUNions, for the record!



  Real Madrid -v- Barcelona  

No other place to kick-off but in the World’s most anticipated and watched club football match up El Clasico!!  It is THE match that easily sets viewing records and this year should be no different.  what with all the underlying sub-plots and the anticipation of twists and turns (that willnot be limited to the mesmeric on-the-ball abilities of Messi, Neymar, CR7 and co).   Thanks to last season’s refreshing efforts from Atletico Madrid, this El Classico will be one of the rare ones in recent memory, where we will be unable to refer to either one of those two La Liga protagonists as “the defending Spanish Champions”.  BUT be that as it may, that will do very little to diminish the keenness that will characterize Saturday’s tie.  For now it is “merely” the Champions of Europe, who lie third on the log, hosting the current log leaders.  That should be enough to whet your appetite, but in case it is not, what follows are a few choice details to sink your teeth into (sorry Luis).

PUN-dit Pointers

  • The total cost of the likely starting line-ups and substitutes comes to an eye-watering estimated £639m, with Real’s squad (not including Bale or Fabio Coentrao) costing £83m more than their opponents to assemble.  It will be the most expensive game of football ever played!!!  And we are not even considering how much MORE it could cost if we had values for Casillas, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets….!!
  • Both sides have scored in each of the last 16 Clasicos; the longest run of its kind in the fixture’s long history.
    Read more at http://www.fourfourtwo.com/statszone/23-2014/matches/774878/pre-match#lXavv4To4jaTTJVm.99
  • Real Madrid have only won two of their last 12 league meetings with Barcelona (D2 L8).
  • Carlo Ancelotti’s side have won their last five league games, scoring an average of five goals per game.
  • With 15 strikes to his name, Ronaldo has registered more goals in the opening eight rounds of the season than any other player in La Liga history, a feat all the more remarkable for the fact that he missed one of those games.  CR7 has scored more league goals this season than 81 of the 98 teams in Europe’s five major leagues, including Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal, Schalke and Dortmund.
  • Ronaldo’s three hat-tricks this term have taken his career La Liga tally of trebles to 22, putting him joint level at the top of the pile with Telmo Zarra and Alfredo Di Stefano.
  • The Catalan giants are unbeaten in 13 league games (W9 D4); their last defeat came back in April at Granada (1-0).
    Read more at http://www.fourfourtwo.com/statszone/23-2014/matches/774878/pre-match#lXavv4To4jaTTJVm.99
  • Lionel Messi’s present tally of 250 career goals in La Liga, leaves him just one behind the record held by 1940s Athletic Bilbao star Telmo Zarra.
  • Barcelona have the opportunity to record the longest run of clean sheets in their league history (nine, currently eight).  That is thanks in part to Barca goalkeeper Claudio Bravo whose feat is a new Spanish football record for consecutive clean sheets at the start of a season.
  • With another clean sheet at the Bernabeu on Saturday, Bravo would move into third place in the all-time La Liga list for minutes played without conceding, although he would still have a long way to go to overtake the record of 1,275 minutes achieved by Atletico keeper Abel Resino in 1990-91.
  • Barcelona have won just three of their last seven matches in all competitions (W3, D2, L2).
  • Barcelona have won 16 of their last 18 matches in La Liga.
  • Barcelona’s Lionel Messi’s 17 El Clasico goal haul is one shy of the record held by…… you guessed it, fellow Argentine, Di Stafano!
  • Lionel Messi has scored in a record 15 successive Liga matches.
  • Barcelona have now conceded in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions. They have let in 19 goals during that run.
  • The Blaugrana have recorded only one victory in their last seven encounters against Madrid (W1, D3, L3).

NB* most stats as per www.bbc.co.uk/sport; www.goal.com; www.espnfc.com; www.whoscored.com; fourfourtwo.com

So what chance of Ronaldo breaking the all-time hat-trick record and Messi setting a new all-time goalscoring record in the same game?   Not much to be honest, BUT if they do it will be one heck of a Classico!!  The two will most certainly play a part, BUT I suspect that one of the lesser lights will have the decisive say in the match, and it could be one of the up to EIGHT potential El Classico debutants (who include one Luis Suarez who will be making a return to footy after another leeeeeeengthy ban-induced off season).

When, almost, all is written and yet to be done, what remains is my PUNt of a MULTI-SCORE DRAW!   Sadly for Mr Claudio Bravo, the streak stops here!

QUICK-PUNts (of less-Classic so-and-sos)  in order of Kick-off Times

  1.  Western Province -v- The Golden Lions (Currie Cup Final):-   With an average of 4 and 5 tries per match this season for Province and The Lions respectively, expect an open game once the big occasion jitters subside.   The Lions edged it 35-33 when they hosted Province in this season’s group encounter.  I expect the home team to reverse that result, if not necessarily the scoreline, so the partisan Newlands crowd should witness WESTERN PROVINCE CLINGING ON FOR A WIN!  With that PUNt being helped by the Golden Lions’ patchy away record. 
  2.  PSG -v- Bordeaux (Ligue 1):-  PSG remain undefeated after 10 rounds, and that would usually mean that they would already be running away with the Ligue 1 crown, BUT thanks to results that see them drawing (6) more than they are winning (4), they are stuck in second place , and level on 18 points with Bordeaux.  Both teams are now 7 points behind Marseille so this is all to play for as a 10 point gap is usually insurmountable in France.  Sadly for Bordeaux The Parisians are not in the habit of losing at (doing so only 3 times in their last 59 league games) so my PUNt doesn’t see much beyond A WIN FOR PSG, meaning that Bordeaux will have failed to win against the French Champions in seven straight attempts.
  3. AS Roma -v- Sampdoria (Serie A):- Roma are yet to concede at the Stadio Olimpico in Serie A, BUT they shipped in a massive 7 GOALS in their midweek loss to Bayern Munich.  They sit second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus, and 3 ahead of this round’s opponent Sampdoria, whose unbeaten start to the campaign has earned them third spot.  Sampdoria will be hoping for Roma’s Champions League hangover to spill over into this encounter, BUT while I expect The Romans to still be smarting from that pounding, I am yet to be convinced that they wont have enough of a gladiatorial spirit to live “up” to my PUNt of a ROME SCORE DRAW!
  4. Borussia Monchengladbach -v- Bayern Munich (Bundesliga):- Bayern are probably more accustomed to having a different Borussia doing the best to keep up with them.  BUT as Borussia Dortmund has fallen by the wayside, it is Monchengladbach that has risen to the challenge of giving Bayern a reason to check their rear view mirror.  Four points separate the Bundesliga’s top two teams so the Bavarians have the luxury of not really panicking should their exertions of scoring 7 mid-week goals in the Champions League prove to be the variable that tips the advantage in Gladbach’s favour.  Gladbach will, however point to their 8 game unbeaten Bundesliga home record as a reason to believe that they can be the ones to end Munich’s 6 game clean sheet streak.  BUT even if they do that my PUNt sees that not being enough to avoid ANOTHER WIN FOR BAYERN MUNICH , which will see them extend their unbeaten record (in all competitions) against Gladbach to 7!
  5. Manchester United -v- Chelsea (EPL):-  Okay granted that ordinarily when the table topping team goes away to the team in sixth place, that isn’t reason enough for intrigue.  BUT when those two teams are Chelsea and Manchester United then the rules are bent ever so slightly.  That bending becomes more justifiable when you consider that it will be the first EPL encounter between Jose’ and his former boss LvG.  Not to mention the first EPL encounter pitting Falcao and the Chelsea Defense (many of whom he ripped to shreds in a UEFA Super Cup Final last time around).  BUT that all counts for little, what really matters is that:-
    • Manchester United have won only six of their last 22 Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea.
    • Manchester United have won three consecutive league games at Old Trafford.
    • Cheksea have gone seven games without defeat away from home in the league (W6, D1).
    • Chelsea (the EPL’s only ubdefeated team this season) are undefeated in their last 6 matches against Man Utd in all competitions.  Conceding only one goal in the last 3 matches.
    • Chelsea are the only Premier League opponents that Man Utd have lost more games (15) against than won (13) against.
    • The last man to score a goal in this fixture (at Old Trafford) was Juan Mata, playing for the Blues.


That is what the numbers say, and they paint a gloomy picture for LvG’s boys, BUT the absence of Diego Costa and Loic Remy mean that the playing field will be somewhat evened out, with all due respect to Didier Drogba.  That will surely boost the shaky confidence of United’s back-line BUT not enough for me to PUNt more than a SCORE DRAW!  United are not convincing yet, BUT they certainly aren’t poor Maribor.

  NB** stats as per www.goal.com and www.whoscored.com and http://www.fourfourtwo.com

Plenty to look forward to and most likely a fair number of records to witness.  BUT if some of the matches fail to materialise as PUNted then as is the custom, please  …….pardonthePUN-dit!
I do however have more than a sneaky feeling that we will, this weekend, witness a fair bit of what is depicted below.  And you can put that on the RECORD!


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