• Champions League

Pellegrini slams UEFA over CSKA pitch

ESPN staff
October 23, 2013
Pellegrini slams CSKA pitch

Manuel Pellegrini is unhappy with UEFA's "unbelievable" decision to let Manchester City's Champions League clash at CSKA Moscow go ahead despite the state of the pitch.

Pellegrini's side are in the Russian capital for their Group D clash, which will go ahead at the Arena Khimki despite CSKA's last home game in Europe - a 3-2 win over Viktoria Plzen - being moved to St Petersburg due to the sub-standard condition of their own playing surface.

Ahead of Wednesday's game, City boss Pellegrini echoed the concerns of midfielder Fernandinho and questioned UEFA's judgement.

"Of course I'm surprised," he told his prematch news conference. "I'm surprised because they were not allowed to play the other game here, against Plzen.

"I think the people from UEFA who reviewed the pitch without hesitation should have said, 'It cannot be played here'. I think it's unbelievable that the most important cup competition in the world is allowed to be played on this pitch.

"We must pray on Wednesday that it's not raining. If it's raining it will be impossible to play on this pitch. It could be called off.

"I didn't believe it when I saw the pitch. This is the most important competition in the world, and it deserves a better pitch."

However, a UEFA spokesperson insisted that the pitch is good enough for the game to go ahead.

"The pitch has been monitored and inspected over the last weeks and has been deemed playable - even if it might not look impeccable, aesthetically," the spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.

"It has recently been considerably improved, thanks to the intensive work of the groundsmen, and we are confident the match will be played under good conditions."

CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky admitted that he is hopeful the pitch might give his side an advantage.

"I suppose the quality of the pitch is equal to the quality of our latest results," he said. "We can hardly beat them on skill."

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