10 Records That Could Realistically Fall This Year
As the popular saying goes, records are made to be broken. Over the past couple of seasons, thanks to the exploits of superstars such as Lionel Messi, many feats that were thought unbeatable have started to fall.
The question is, with the 2013/14 season set to be rounded off with a World Cup, which landmarks will be next to fall by the wayside?
Nobody can know for certain what can happen over the space of the next eight months, between now and the 2014 World Cup final in the Maracana, but the following 10 milestones could well be smashed by the time the curtain is closed on the current season.
Most Champions League Goals
Raul's record of 75 strikes in the Champions League stands proud at the top of the all-time list. The former Real Madrid star and Spain international earned his achievement over 17 years of European football, reaching the tally after 155 games.
This year, however, we could be crowning a new winner.
In just 82 matches, Barcelona phenomenon Lionel Messi has smashed his way to 67 goals in European competition. Nine more this season is a tough ask, but by no means out of reach for the Argentine.
Most Champions League Appearances
One of Messi's Barcelona team-mates has an eye on another Champions League milestone.
Specifically, becoming the player who has taken part in the most matches during the tournament's long history.
Veteran midfielder Xavi currently lies fourth in the list with 139 appearances, but there is little to separate the quartet at the top of the roll of honour.
Milan legend Paolo Maldini's total could be reached on Wednesday—fittingly, against the Italians—while Ryan Giggs' 145 will almost certainly be overcome if Barca advance into the later stages.
Most Goals in a Liga Season
Lionel Messi's personal record of 50 goals during the 2011/12 Spanish season is an imposing target, but if there is one thing La Liga does not lack, it is committed goalscorers who could trouble that half-century.
In the early stages of the current campaign, two candidates to break that record have already emerged.
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real have both smashed 13 goals in the opening 12 games, leaving behind the Argentine.
If they maintain current form, either one of the pair could be gunning for a historic achievement come season's end.
Most Points in a Liga Season
Barcelona, meanwhile, could be looking at an even greater achievement. The side coached by Gerardo Martino have been relentless to start the season, picking up an incredible 11 wins and one draw to take hold of the Liga summit.
The Catalans currently share with Madrid the title of most points achieved in a single season at 100. A total of 114 will be played for across the season, which means that the Blaugrana can only afford to drop 11 more across 26 games if they wish to once more make history.
Most Wins in a Serie A Season
Over in Italy, Roma are also keen to make their own mark on the record books. The capital club opened with 10 straight wins in Serie A—an unparalleled feat in its own right—but there is another, more challenging milestone ahead.
Francesco Totti and his team-mates would need to record 21 more victories in the 27 games they have left in the season to overcome Inter's record of 30 wins during the 2006/07 campaign.
Not insignificantly, such a run would also guarantee a first title since 2000/01, a drought of 13 years for the club.
Most Serie A Titles for a Non-Italian
Inter may not have enjoyed the best start to the Serie A season, but there are signs that things are coming together for the Milan giants. A 3-0 destruction of Udinese at the weekend lifted the side up to fourth. The club is now well-placed for a title challenge.
If the Nerazzurri can topple Roma and win the Scudetto, it would be a special achievement for Walter Samuel. Currently with six titles to his name, a seventh triumph would crown the Argentine defender as the most successful foreigner in the history of Italian football—a distinction he currently shares with Dejan Stankovic and ex-Genoa pioneer Dr James Richardson Spensley.
First Non-European Manager to Win Premier League
Switching focus from Lombardy to Greater Manchester, we can see that another South American could be about to make history.
Of all the managers who have ever won the Premier League or First Division in England, there is one unifying factor: Every tactician has been born in Europe.
Enter Manuel Pellegrini.
His Manchester City team recorded the season's biggest win at the weekend with a 7-0 blowout of Norwich, leaving them six points shy of Arsenal. If the Citizens can repeat their success of two seasons ago, the Chilean would take a special place in the Premier League record books.
Oldest Player at a World Cup
In 1994, Cameroon legend Roger Milla wrote his way into World Cup folklore by playing at the grand old age of 42 years and 39 days. The West Africans may not have been able to shock the football world the way they had done four years earlier, but it appeared that Milla at least had set an insurmountable landmark.
However, one player will be aiming to go better in 2014. Colombia keeper Faryd Mondragon turns 43 on June 21, 2014.
David Ospina is currently the first-choice shot-stopper for the side, but injury or suspension could throw the veteran into both the spotlight and the history books.
Mondragon is also the only survivor from Colombia's last appearance at a World Cup finals way back in 1998.
First South American World Cup to Go Outside the Continent
A total of four World Cups have been played on South American soil. Each of those ended in the same way—with the title staying on the football-mad continent.
Uruguay lead the way with two triumphs (1930 and 1950), while Brazil (1962) and Argentina (1978) complete the roll of honour.
Adding the 1970 and 1986 competitions held in Mexico to that list, we can see that European nations have not been able to wrest the trophy away from Latin America in six opportunities.
Could 2014 be the year? Spain will be gunning for a second consecutive trophy (and would be the first to do so since Brazil in 1958 and 1962). Indeed, alongside the hosts, La Roja must be considered strong candidates.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will also be extremely difficult to beat, even on the other side of the Atlantic.
First Team to Half a Dozen World Cups
You can be sure that Brazil will be fighting tooth and nail in order to avoid the trophy leaving their backyard. The Selecao, after all, have their own record to protect and improve upon.
If Neymar and company triumph in the Maracana in July of next year, Brazil will become the first team to lift the World Cup six times, pulling ahead of nearest rivals Italy (four) in the all-time leaderboard.
The South Americans would also break an 18-year losing streak for hosts. The last home team to triumph in front of their own fans were France in 1998.