Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi conceded 23 goals in 196 games – err no, here are the real stats

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

Be ready for a gobsmacker of a fact: ‘Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini let in a mere 23 goals as a centre-back duo in 196 matches!’ At least, that’s what the headlines blared.

Punters, brace yourselves. Yet another tabloid has swallowed a dodgy translation hook, line, and sinker, spinning a yarn about the legendary AC Milan defenders, Baresi and Maldini. The outrageous claim first surfaced in 2019 and was even ‘refreshed’ during the 2020 lockdown. Yet, despite its dodgy origins, the tall tale still clings to the internet like a barnacle.

Several top outlets have taken the bait, retelling the story and peddling the false stat far and wide. A recent tweet even upped the ante, claiming the duo only conceded 29 goals rather than the original 23. That little fib got over 35,000 retweets!

The Twitter post shared by Serie A Tim displays incorrect stats

The whoppers have been busted before, with various articles and tweets exposing the fallacy. Yet, the myth persists, proving the age-old adage: a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

Think about it for a moment: Even for two of the greatest defenders in history, conceding just 3.8 goals per season for 13 years running seems a touch on the miraculous side.

After a bit of sleuthing, the original miscreant was unmasked: the official Serie A Twitter account! The tweet, originally sent out by @SerieA_TIM, and now @SerieA, declared: ‘196 games together, 23 goals conceded by AC Milan. Legends.’

The sharp-eyed among you will notice a slight discrepancy. The number crunchers over at Transfermarkt reveal that Maldini and Baresi actually paired up for AC Milan a total of 400 times over 13 seasons – a wee bit off the purported 196. And the plot thickens: Maldini notched up 20 goals with Baresi, who chipped in with another 12. So the enigmatic 23 wasn’t a tally of goals scored.

Maldini and Baresi are two of the best defensive duos of all time but the myth of their stats has been overshared and taken as the truth

Unravelling the numbers, the pair let in 298 goals across their 400 games together. Hardly a number to write home about compared to the mythical 23 in 196. But wait, the truth finally emerges from the shadows: If you divide that 298 by the number of seasons they played together (13), you arrive at a rounded-up figure of 23!

So there we have it, folks. Serie A’s Twitter fib wasn’t about 23 goals in total, but rather an average of 23 goals conceded per season.

In the world of ultra-defensive 80s Italian football, where only one player managed to break the 20 goal barrier in Serie A, the number is less than remarkable. As it turns out, ‘average’ is precisely what the original stat was meant to highlight.

Now, isn’t that a kick in the head?

Credit to Matthew Ketchell for the information above – originally published on FourFourTwo, June 17, 2023.

Share this Article
Leave a comment