The FA has agreed to reschedule Chelsea FC’s Barclay’s Premier League match against Sunderland AFC in order to accommodate the Blues’ deep run in to the UEFA Champions League. The match was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday April 20th, only two days before the first leg of the semifinal tie with Atletico Madrid. Had the Sunderland match not been rescheduled, Chelsea would have had to play a match on Sunday and travel to Madrid on Monday with no time for training and little time for rest. Now that they play on Saturday, the players can travel on Sunday or Monday and squeeze in one training session before the first leg clash.
It’s great that the FA has finally shown some common sense with this move but it’s unfortunate that it has taken them this long to make it happen. Managers in England, Jose Mourinho in particular, have been complaining about a lack of support from the FA for their forays in Europe for years. Perhaps it has been the relative struggles of English teams in Europe, Chelsea FC aside of course, that has lead to this change of heart from the bigwigs of English football.
Mourinho has spoken of FAs in other countries allowing teams to play on Fridays or very early on Saturday to accommodate a Tuesday European match. The example he used was the Turkish FA rescheduling a Saturday match to Friday evening for Galatasaray before they faced the Blues in their first leg match. An extra day of rest may not seem like much of a difference, especially when talking about professional athletes, but there is much more to it than that. That extra day means more time for recovery from injury, more time to study game-film, and more time to travel and adapt to unfamiliar grounds. The extra day of rest given to Chelsea FC by the FA will not decide the tie with Atletico Madrid but it certainly does not hurt to have it.
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