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The Lead

Football’s a funny game (as you know). One of the funnier aspects, not in the ha-ha sense of course, is the focus on the single game impact of one or two players.

This is not a frivolous concern. Remember: England absolutely, positively, without a doubt or a shred of sarcasm on my part, lost Euro 2004 because Wayne Rooney hurt his metatarsals in the infamous quaterfinal against Portugal.

Which is to say, no they didn’t.

Rooney in fact is at the centre of apparent renewed concern, as the England international ‘is a doubt’ for Manchester United’s Premier League match against QPR, meaning he is also not likely to appear in United’s return leg against Real Madrid. Gnashing and weeping.

This is the same Wayne Rooney of course who was widely criticised as being utterly ineffective against Real Madrid in the first leg, defensively unaware, aloof, and not with much added value to the team. Are you following me?

Now it appears Schalke are up in arms about the presence of Didier Drogba in their Champions League fixture against Galatasaray. Apparently Shanghai Shenhua believes the Ivorian striker is still under contract.

From a practical sense, it’s likely Schalke just want to gain any leverage they can in making it to the quarterfinals, but if the concern specifically is Drogba-related, the club is sure going to great lengths to see a player who managed to win less than half his aerial challenges, managed to make three shots on target, but was otherwise a guy on a field.

It would be idiotic to say teams aren’t better with their traditionally more effective players, but in a single game, the likelihood they’ll have a major impact is far less certain. Several absences for either Gala or United could be crippling. Two players—even players with semi-decent track records of scoring crucial goals—that might be a little overcooked.

England

Skrtel still a doubt for Liverpool.

Jones remains a question mark for CL second leg against Madrid.

Spurs fans injured in Lyon attack ahead of Europa League match.

AVB a Gooner?

Italy

Messi’s poor scoring record against Serie A teams continues.

Del Piero extends contract with Sydney FC.

La Liga

Abidal healthy and fit to play again.

Jese Rodriguez says he’ll consider leaving if his services aren’t appreciated at Madrid.

Jones remains a questions mark for CL second leg against Madrid.

Germany

Profile of another rising young star in Germany: Max Meyer.

Greuther Fuerth part ways with coach Mike Buskens.

Bit and Bobs

Police arrest man on match-fixing allegations.

A little bit about Yilmaz, the joint CL top scorer.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.