Fresh tests face Fergie & Aragones

In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.

That's why, every week, we at take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. In this, the latest of our round-ups, we highlight the achievements of Luis Aragones, Luciano Emilio and Phillip Lahm, while looking forward to an intriguing challenge for Sir Alex Ferguson against yet another former protégé.

passes, more than any other player at UEFA EURO 2008, goes some way towards explaining why Philipp Lahm is such an influential and impressive figure in the Germany side chasing continental glory. The swashbuckling full-back was the only German player to play all 690 minutes at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ and, as Joachim Low's side chase their first EURO crown since 1996, he has once again been consistency and reliability personified on both flanks. This evening, Lahm could well find himself coming into direct opposition against a club colleague when Germany face Turkey in the first of the EURO 2008 semi-finals. Hamit Altintop would be well advised not to expect any special favours from his Bayern team-mate, however - Lahm's competitive streak and sporting versatility ensured that he even emerged triumphant in the Germany squad's internal table-tennis tournament.

years and 334 days will make Luis Aragones the oldest head coach ever to oversee a UEFA European Championship semi-final when he leads his side into battle against Russia tomorrow evening. The veteran Spain coach will certainly hope that wisdom and experience proves as valuable to La Furia Roja as it did to the team led by the man whose record he is eclipsing: Otto Rehhagel. The German coach was 38 days short of his 66th birthday when he masterminded Greece's 1-0 win in the 2004 final over a Czech Republic side managed by the EURO's third-oldest coach, Karel Bruckner, then 64. Aragones has been widely lauded for his side's displays thus far and it said much for the historical significance of Spain's quarter-final win on that supposedly 'cursed' date that not even El Sabio de Hortaleza (the Wise Man of Hortaleza), whose playing career began 51 years ago, was around to see Spain's last win over Italy at a major championships - in the 1920 Olympics.

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