Belfast Telegraph

Di Matteo let down by scheduling

Roberto Di Matteo has claimed the Football Association and Premier League could be harming Chelsea's Champions League chances by making them play three days before European games.

The Blues travel to Benfica on Tuesday barely 72 hours after Saturday's Barclays Premier League game against Tottenham while, in stark contrast, the Primeira Liga moved the Portuguese club's game at Olhanense back to Friday.

Asked if allowing teams to play league and FA Cup matches on a Friday ahead of European games should be looked into, caretaker Blues manager Di Matteo said: "Absolutely, yes. Absolutely, yes. Because the other federations, they do tend to help their teams to be able to perform as good as possible in Europe."

He added: "It just doesn't seem to be happening in England."

Napoli also played both their Serie A matches on a Friday night ahead of their last-16 tie with Chelsea, who are in the midst of a nightmare schedule of seven games in 20 days.

When it was pointed out that would have meant playing just 48 hours after Wednesday's defeat at Manchester City, Di Matteo said: "We shouldn't have maybe played that game on Wednesday night, that's the point.

"The fixture list has to take into consideration the fact that teams are maybe qualifying in the FA Cup, going through, and in the Champions League, going through, and try to give them an equal possibility to win games.

"Because there is no doubt in my mind that, on Wednesday, City had a slight advantage because they didn't play on Sunday."


From Belfast Telegraph