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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Sir Bobby Charlton
Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton answers your e-mails on the Champions League final and the World Cup.


Real Madrid take on Germany's Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League final at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, England have flown out to Dubai ahead of the World Cup without Kieron Dyer and Steven Gerrard, who look likely to miss the tournament.


James Smith, Manchester

Can Bayer Leverkusen do anything against the likes of Zidane, Figo and Raul?

I think it will be really difficult for them. They've got several players missing through either suspension or injury, and they've suffered a couple of really bad results at home.

They've squandered a big lead in the Bundesliga and they've just lost the German Cup final. Add to that the quality of the team they're playing against and they've got a really tough job on their hands. If they are to hold out, their concentration will have to be absolutely superb - but that is a great quality of theirs.


Glen Dods, UK

How big a role will Michael Ballack have to play if Leverkusen are to overcome the might of Real Madrid?

Every time they get a free kick or a corner kick, he's going to have to be at the end of the ball. He's got a strong shot and he's good in the air, and if Real Madrid concede too many corners or free-kicks on the edge of the area it could prove quite costly to them - Ballack is deadly in those situations.

I would expect him to be the main danger to the Real Madrid defence.


Ron, England

Bayer Leverkusen have never won their own league and while there is no doubt they have performed well to get to the final, isn't slightly farcical that they should be there at all?

I think you could say that about a lot of teams - Manchester United weren't champions when they won it in 1999. If we're being perfectly honest it should be strictly for the champions, but we've gone so far down the road now that we can never go back - although I agree that it does seem a little unfair.


Michael Madely, England

The loss of Steven Gerrard is a massive blow to England, and we don't have anyone of the same calibre to replace him. How do you think England will cope in his absence?

He's such a good player that I don't think we can really replace him. He wins the ball, his distribution is great and he scores goals. But the competition for places may now bring up a new star that we weren't expecting. It may be that Sven-Goran Eriksson plays Joe Cole in that position, or he could re-shuffle Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes.

The occasion sometimes brings out something really special in certain players, and despite Gerrard's loss, we have to think that the players we have are still good enough to win games. But the World Cup is about playing consistently well, and there's no doubt that his absence is a big blow.

It could be that Kieron Dyer or David Beckham come through their injuries easier than we think, or that someone else will emerge as a hero. Anything is possible, and we mustn't get too morose about it. Gerrard will obviously be very disappointed, but he has time on his side.

Owen Hargreaves plays in a similar role for Bayern Munich - do you think he could slot in there?

Owen Hargreaves can play on either side of midfield. He's a different type of player - more mobile - and he has an opportunity to prove himself in this competition. I think it's almost certain that he will play now.


Graham, England

Do you think that England have the quality and the class to beat the likes of Argentina and France?

England would certainly have had the quality and class without the injuries. I'm not saying we would have been favourites, but when England play well they are very tough competitors. It's going to be very difficult, as France and Argentina are very consistent, but we do have class players.

I would never be afraid of playing France or Argentina. I would be more afraid of playing a team that we might take for granted. If we get past the first couple of stages there's no reason why we can't go all the way.


Gary Morris, England

What do you think that Danny Murphy and Trevor Sinclair offer that Steve McManaman doesn't?

I must be honest - had I been the manager I think I would have taken Steve McManaman. But then I don't work with them all the time, that's Eriksson's job, and he obviously knows what's best for the team. So if he's decided that, then we'll accept it.


James Milliner, England

Don't you think it's time we addressed the sheer number of games that are played over the course of a season? It is now becoming a case of too many games leading to broken bodies.

Most players at the World Cup will have gone through a lot of matches - in some cases more than ours have had to - so I think it's something you just have to accept. I think it would be okay if the managers of the squads tried to give their players a breather every now and then, but this is something that is never going to change, so there's no point moping about it.

When I was playing, I played well over 60 games a season - about the same as today. The main difference today is that the coaches have more quality players to pick from. If you're a healthy player, and you're dedicated, the extra games shouldn't be a problem.


Kevin Flannigan, UK

How about playing Joe Cole on the left for England?

Joe Cole is not solely a right footed player, and I think he's very capable of moving around. The left side could turn out to be his best position, but we'll just have to wait and see. He may not even be in the starting line-up, but if he does play I don't think he'll let us down. I wouldn't be afraid to put him in anywhere.


Clive McIntosh, UK

Over the past four or five games, England have not looked solid enough in defence to compete with the likes of France and Argentina.

He's possibly right. Wayne Bridge hasn't been in the game very long and yet here he is in the England squad. But he's a good player, and he gives good balance to the defence. Sol Campbell has had a very good year and there's no reason why we should doubt him, and Martin Keown and Gareth Southgate are both excellent.

Generally speaking, if we do have a problem in defence it's probably on the right side - particularly since Gary Neville's injury. It's important that the defence is supplemented by the midfield, as they can play a crucial role in helping them out. I'm certainly satisfied with our goalkeepers, who I think are very capable.


Bjorn, Iceland

Do you think that France are as good now as they were four years ago? And who do you fancy to win it? I think someone will beat France, although they are super-confident, and the more you win the easier it becomes. But I think there will be one very crucial game during the World Cup when someone will beat them. People respect and fear them so much that they will try and work really hard against them. They have a lot of pressure coming through from other teams.


Colin Bailey, England

My bet is that Spain make it through to the final and could be a good bet given their good recent form.

They always seem to under-achieve. I've always fancied Spain whenever the World Cup comes round, and they've always let me down. So this year I'm not going to go for them as I don't think they've got enough depth.

But they could surprise you as they play at a quality level on a regular basis. If they can marry the team spirit they have at a national level they have a chance. But they certainly aren't favourites. I'd put them on a par with Italy or England or Germany.


Tom McCoy, UK

Why do you think the Spanish League has forged ahead of others in Europe in recent seasons?

They've got good quality players in the Spanish League and the top teams spend a lot of money on players. But I don't think it follows that the national team will do as good as the club sides.

But they also have a lot of foreign players in the Spanish League, and the likes of Morientes and Raul benefit from playing with them.

Richard Allinson, England

How far do you think England will get?

The first match is very important. If we don't win that it puts a lot of pressure on the next two. But I think we have a chance to get through to the quarter-finals and if we get that far, anything's possible.


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