Man City’s Pellegrini in Champions League fear over Saints clash

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes the scheduling of Sunday’s Premier League match at Southampton will damage his side’s Champions League hopes.

The decision to play the match on a Sunday means City will have one less day of rest than Real Madrid ahead of their second leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Spanish giants’ Bernabeu ground.

Pellegrini wanted the Southampton match, which kicks-off at 4:30 pm local time (1530 GMT) Sunday, brought forward to Saturday.

But it is believed the club did not bother with an official request because, as the match had been selected for television, it had little chance of forcing a change.

Pellegrini said the present situation was hampering English clubs in their quest for European success.

“In the Premier League, I don’t understand why when having so many games, and they all have the same interest, that we can’t play one day before to have 24 hours (more rest), at least having the same as Real Madrid,” he said Friday.

“Why? It’s not my answer to say because maybe there are things about TV rights to make that decision.”

The Chilean added: “As a manager you always want to have all the options for Manchester City but you are representing England in the Champions League. You at least don’t want to give the advantage to the other team. That is very important.”

This is not the first time in the current season that City have been annoyed by fixture scheduling ahead of a European game.

The first leg of their last-16 tie at Dynamo Kiev came three days after their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Chelsea. City failed in a bid to have the FA Cup tie moved and, as a consequence, Pellegrini fielded an under-strength side that suffered a 5-1 defeat

“I said about the FA Cup that the format is wrong,” Pellegrini explained.

“You cannot continue in the Champions League and FA Cup to the end because you have three (Premier League) games postponed until the last week of the season. It’s impossible to continue in both competitions.

“The FA Cup is an important, old competition and deserves respect. To leave it out because you want to continue in the Champions League should not be a decision for the manager. There must be a format for the cup that allows teams to play both competitions.”

City will be without David Silva for the trip to Madrid after the Spanish playmaker suffered a hamstring injury in midweek.

Pellegrini said: “He will not be fit for this week. He will need two or three weeks to recover. He will play in the final — that is the target!”

But Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, who will miss the Southampton match, could be back for the Madrid match, with the tie all square after a goalless draw at Eastlands.

“In this moment we don’t know, but he has some options,” said Pellegrini.

City still have to work to do to assure themselves of Champions League qualification via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Pellegrini, who will be replaced at the end of the season by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, said: “The best way to make a good game on Wednesday is to win on Sunday and have trust in the performance of different players.

“Our mind is the same, to continue trying to win all our games and have a spot in the Champions League for next year, and be as near the top of the table as we can.”

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