LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini finds it "unbelievable" the Premier League refused to move forward Manchester City's late kick-off at Southampton today, before their Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.
City, who were lying third in the Premier League before last night's round of matches, play Real on Wednesday evening at the Bernabeu having drawn Tuesday's opening leg 0-0.
Pellegrini's side travel to Southampton for a 4.30pm start (British time) and the manager said he was at a loss after being told that the Premier League would not help England's last representatives in the competition.
"For me it is unbelievable," Pellegrini said. "If you see other leagues, including Italy, the teams that play Champions League play their domestic games on a Friday.
"I think it's better for English football, because if you don't continue in the Champions League - and I'm not talking just about Manchester City - maybe we (England) are going to lose a spot for the next Champions League."
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0
Everton 2 Bournemouth 1
Stoke 1 Sunderland 1
West Brom 0 West Ham 3
Watford 3 Aston Villa 2
Arsenal v Norwich Late kick-off
Swansea v Liverpool Ch102 & Ch227, 7pm
Manchester United v Leicester Ch102 & Ch227, 9pm
Southampton v Man City Ch102 & Ch227, 11.30pm
Chelsea v Tottenham Ch102 & Ch 227, Tuesday, 3am
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The other three Champions League semi-finalists - Real, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid - played yesterday.
The Chilean was unsure why the Premier League refused City's request. But he said: "I think the mentality should be not to give any advantage to your rivals."
Pellegrini will be without injured midfielders David Silva and Yaya Toure at St Mary's while forward Raheem Sterling is back after recovering from a groin injury.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is hoping for a victory which will strengthen his eighth-placed team's hopes of repeating last season's feat of qualifying for the Europa League.
""We won six of our last eight home games," he said. "Maybe City have players who are thinking about Real Madrid. If you can start well and make it a tough game for them, maybe it's another reason as to how we can win the game."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
SOUTHAMPTON V MAN CITY
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