‘Difficult EPL hurting clubs’ Champions League performance’

Manchester, Sep 27 (IANS) Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal and his Manchester City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini have said that English clubs are unable to do well in the Champions League due to the physical, high intensity competition at the domestic level.

English Premier League (EPL) teams have struggled in Europe over the last three seasons with only one club — Chelsea in 2014 — managing to reach the semi-finals. In 2013 and this year no English team have managed to get past the round of 16.

European football’s governing body UEFA has expressed concern over the situation and is looking to reduce the number of English sides in the Champions League from from four to three in the future. The extra place could go to Italy following Juventus’ successful run to last season’s final.

“The Premier League is a very difficult league. It is not easy to beat the ­opposition every week. It is always a struggle and a battle in England. Then you play in the Champions League in midweek,” van Gaal was quoted as saying by the British media on Sunday.

“That’s the difference between all clubs in Europe and Premier League clubs.

“The difficulty is all these players are in a rat race. It takes a lot out of the players every week. That’s why you have to rotate. That is what I do now because I have to protect my players.”

Pellegrini meanwhile, called on the Football Association (FA) to prepare a more helpful domestic schedule in order to allow players more time to recover for the Champions League’s midweek matches.

“We have a lot more games than other teams in Europe and they have a rest — one week, two weeks or 20 days at the end of December.

“I understand here in England Boxing Day is an important day to play. It is a beautiful day, but maybe we can play less games in January. It is important to understand that we have different teams and competitions to other teams in Europe,” the Chilean said.

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