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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes the punishing December and January schedule in English football is damaging the Premier League's leading clubs in European competitions.
Winter schedule harming English teams - Pellegrini
11/03/2015
 
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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes the punishing December and January schedule in English football is damaging the Premier League's leading clubs in European competitions.


City travel to Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday night hoping to seal their place in the knockout stages for the third consecutive season.


However, despite the millions poured into the club by their Emerati owners, City have failed to make it beyond the last 16 in the Champions League.


No English club made it to the quarter-finals last season and it is over three years since a Premier League side made it to the final.


By contrast, Spanish clubs have won both the Champions League and Europa League in each of the last two seasons.


Pellegrini spent nine seasons in Spain as a coach with Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga before moving to City in 2013.


And whilst he accepted the level of technique is better in La Liga, the Chilean also believes English sides are at a physical disadvantage when the knockout phase starts after the New Year.


"I don't think technique is the whole reason. The pace in England is very high," Pellegrini said on Monday.


"We have in England the months of December and January where we play eight games each month, so you arrive to the last 16 after two very strong months fighting for every point in the Premier League."


City will once again be without the injured Sergio Aguero and David Silva as they didn't travel with the rest of the squad to Andalusia.


Yet, in contrast to their often precarious route through the group stages in recent years, City will qualify with two games to spare should they win and Borussia Moenchengladbach fail to beat Juventus in the other game in the group.


"Of course it is a benefit to qualify as soon as you can. It is not easy to do it two games before, but you must not just qualify, you must fight for the first place in the group.


"We have two games more to qualify if we don't to it tomorrow and to win the group if we do."


Sevilla's form in La Liga this season has been patchy as a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal on Saturday saw them slip to 11th.


However, they have won their last 10 European games at home and also beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan last month.


Kevin de Bruyne's stoppage time winner handed the Engiish side a 2-1 win when the sides met two weeks ago to give City a three-point lead over Unai Emery's men.


Yet, Pellegrini refused to countenance the idea of settling for a point.


"This team is not prepared to try to draw games," he added.


"We are going to try and win the game from the beginning. Of course, if you cannot win it is better to draw than lose, but you cannot start the game thinking a draw is a good result.


"I think the best way to manage the game is to play as we always do. We have enough quality to qualify for the next stage by beating Sevilla here at home."

Source: Kieran CANNING/ AFP
 
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