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Football news

Drogba refuses to play for Montreal

A disgruntled Didier Drogba refused to play for the Montreal Impact on Sunday after learning that he would not be in the starting line-up, coach Mauro Biello said.

The big-name striker opted not to show up at Saputo Stadium where the Impact drew 2-2 at home against Toronto FC to secure a play-off spot.

Montreal earlier listed a back injury to explain his omission but reports of discord were confirmed after the match.

“I spoke with him (Saturday) and he didn’t accept the fact that he would come off the bench and, in the end, he didn’t want to be in the 18,” Biello said.

Ludogorets fear Arsenal – Walcott

Arsenal striker Theo Walcott expects Bulgarian side Ludogorets to be fearful ahead of their visit to the Emirates for the Champions League group stage tie tomorrow.

Walcott, who scored a brace to help 10-man Arsenal hold on for a 3-2 win against Swansea City at the weekend, believes the club’s six-game winning streak will put the Bulgarian champions on the back foot in north London.

“I don’t think they (Ludogorets) will be looking forward to playing us, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Especially with the way we’re playing and the amount of goals we’ve scored this season already.”

Prandelli praises Valencia spirit

Valencia coach Cesare Prandelli praised his team’s spirit and determination as his tenure at the ailing La Liga giants got off on the right note with a 2-1 win at Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

The former Italy boss succeeded Pako Ayesteran a fortnight ago with the twice Champions League finalists in the relegation zone and his new charges impressed in Gijon.

“What I liked most was the union, the desire to do things well and the spirit of wanting to work hard,” Prandelli said.

“We played with a lot of intensity at a difficult ground against a very organised team and it was a very balanced game.”

Albrighton wants Foxes to get fighting

Leicester City must pick themselves up to rediscover the winning habit and get their season back on track, Marc Albrighton has said.

Leicester have not been able to replicate last season’s fairytale run under manager Claudio Ranieri, who led the 5,000-1 outsiders to the title against all the odds.

They sit 13th in the standings after eight games.

“Last year, we had the rub of the green on many occasions which I feel we created ourselves. We were working hard all over the pitch and things started going for us,” Albrighton said.

“If you’re not doing the basics and you’re not fighting as well as you can then things like that go against you. We’ve got to pick ourselves up.”

Neymar will be ‘next Messi’ – Rakitic

Brazilian Neymar is set to become the next best player in the world after Argentina’s Lionel Messi, according to Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

Since arriving at Nou Camp in June 2013, Neymar has netted 59 goals in around 100 La Liga appearances and has won two top-flight titles as well as the Champions League.

“If we speak about the best, it is Leo Messi. Neymar is on the way to be the next best,” Rakitic told the Times.

“Barca will do the best thing to sign a new contract with him and maybe they can put a buy-out clause as high as possible, because he will be the next Messi for sure.

“He’s scored (nearly) 300 goals and he’s only 24. He’s special.”

Dortmund CEO against title play-off

Borussia Dortmund’s general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke says he strongly opposes a play-off to determine the Bundesliga champions each season.

Former Eintracht Frankfurt chairman Heribert Bruchhagen suggested play-offs, like in many US sports, could be a way to end Bayern’s dominance of the league.

Rather than the league being won by the side who finishes the regular season first, the top four teams would be involved in an end-of-season mini-league to determine the overall champion.

“If all the 34 games of the season did was determine qualification for the play-offs, then we would be leading our fans a merry dance,” Watzke said.

“The fairest, cleanest and most difficult way to win the title is through the German league.”

Wolfsburg sack coach Hecking – reports

VfL Wolfsburg parted ways with coach Dieter Hecking yesterday after their disappointing start to the Bundesliga season, according to media reports in Germany.

Hecking, who took over in late 2012 and led Wolfsburg to second place and victory in the German Cup in 2015, has seen his team glean just six points this season despite making significant new signings, like Germany striker Mario Gomez.

The 2009 champions won only the first of their seven games and have lost three of their last four.

Hecking had trained with the team earlier yesterday.

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