Hiddink wants Friday night games

LONDON • Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink pleaded with the English Premier League to introduce Friday night football in an effort to maximise his side's chances of Champions League success.

His team face Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital tomorrow in a last-16, first-leg match-up, having played on Saturday evening when they romped to a 5-1 win over Newcastle United.

The veteran Dutch coach believes playing their league fixture on a Friday would have provided a crucial extra 24 hours to prepare for such a high-profile European adventure.

It would also allow time for injuries to heal, especially in the case of skipper John Terry who suffered a "small muscular problem" to his hamstring in Saturday's game at Stamford Bridge.

With centre-back Kurt Zouma ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Hiddink would loathe to be without Terry, who has 124 Europe appearances. The Blues skipper was involved in a collision with Newcastle's Aleksandar Mitrovic and went off after 37 minutes.

"Midweek is already Tuesday, so we just have two days to recover. Teams need at least three days, but we don't have that," said Hiddink.

"We have to consider when the Premier League clubs have to play in Europe, if they can play on an earlier date to gain another day's recovery. The second day after an intense performance is a day for rest and small recovery. But we have to prepare on that second day.

"I'm strongly in favour, if you have to play on Tuesday, then we should play on Friday. I know there are commercial reasons not to do so, but sports have to be on top of that."

Hiddink admitted that PSG are favourites, but his team's mindset has been bolstered by Saturday's win - Chelsea's best league result this season.

The Blues remain unbeaten in 10 league games since the Dutch manager took over from Jose Mourinho in December. But PSG have an even longer undefeated streak.

Lille on Saturday ended the French champions' run of 16 consecutive wins in all competitions with a goal-less draw but Laurent Blanc's side extended their record-breaking unbeaten run in Ligue One to 35 matches.

"We needed to avoid injuries and we did so. All that was missing was the two points we dropped," said Blanc.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'Hiddink wants Friday night games'. Print Edition | Subscribe