"How are we to interpret the refereeing decisions that are going against us? ... They haven't given us a penalty yet and I don't think that's normal."
Those were the words of Diego Milito after Inter's 1-0 loss to Serie A rival Lazio on Monday evening. Such conspiracy theories are nothing new in Italy, of course, but, as the Calciopoli scandal of 2006 underlined, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean the referees are not doing right by you.
However, do the stats offer any kind of support for Milito's claim? Well, Inter is in the unusual position of having reached the halfway point of the 2013-14 season without having received a single penalty. The team is not alone in that regard, though, as Parma, Atalanta and Chievo have also yet to earn a single spot kick.
Of course, one could claim that the smaller sides never get anything off referees, anyway, but Sassuolo is in the relegation zone and yet has benefited from four penalties already this term - which puts the team joint-sixth in the overall spot kick standings.
|THE BIG FIVE'S PENALTY KINGS
It may come as a surprise to Roma captain Francesco Totti but that's one more than Juventus. Interestingly, it is fourth-placed Fiorentina and ninth-placed Genoa topping this particular table, with six penalties apiece.
That means that the Viola and the Rossoblu, on average, are awarded a spot kick every three games. However, that's not the best average in Europe's 'Big Five' Leagues.
No, that honor/advantage belongs to a Bundesliga side. Bayern Munich? No. It's lowly Hoffenheim. The 12th-placed team in Germany's top flight has won seven penalties in just 17 games, one more than Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, and two more than the reigning champion.
The statistics in Spain are also somewhat surprising. There is an assumption that officials always favor Real Madrid and Barcelona, but it is Atletico which has racked up the most penalties after 18 rounds of action, though Diego Simeone's men have only scored five of their seven spot kicks. In fairness, both Madrid and Barcelona have received five apiece, but then, so too has Rayo Vallecano and Levante.
In France, though, it is Paris Saint-Germain which tops the penalty standings, with seven in 19 outings. Nearest rival Monaco has received just three.
By complete contrast, Arsenal, which tops the Premier League, has earned just two penalties this season. North London rival Tottenham has four, though, one ahead of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, which has been involved in plenty of simulation controversies of late.
However, spare a thought for Cardiff City, as it's the only side in the English top flight yet to win a single spot kick this season. Proof, surely, that money can't buy you everything.
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