Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini believes the scheduling of Sunday’s game at Southampton hampers his side’s hopes in the Champions League.
City’s players will have one day’s rest less than Real Madrid ahead of the second leg of their semi-final at the Bernabeu next Wednesday.
Pellegrini wanted the Southampton game, which kicks off at 4.30pm on Sunday, brought forward to Saturday. It is understood enquiries were made, but the club did not pursue an official request because, as the fixture was selected for television coverage, it was decided it would have little chance of success.
Pellegrini feels this situation is wrong and not helpful to English clubs competing in Europe.
The Chilean said: “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.
“Why? It’s not my answer to say because maybe there are things about TV rights to make that decision.
“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.”
It is the second time this season City have been frustrated 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 were angry that a request to have that game moved failed and they consequently fielded an under-strength side.
Pellegrini said: “I said about the FA Cup that the format is wrong. 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 playmaker David Silva for the trip to Madrid after the Spaniard 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!”
Pellegrini, speaking at his pre-match press conference, delivered a more positive update on midfielder Yaya Toure, who is now back in training. The Ivorian will not play at Southampton but could be back in contention for Madrid.
“In this moment we don’t know, but he has some options,” said Pellegrini, whose side played out a goalless draw with Real at the Etihad Stadium.
City’s immediate focus is domestic matters and points are still needed to secure a place in the Champions League for next season.
Pellegrini 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.”