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Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas prepares his side to take on the Swiss club FC Basel, and he has admitted that the much greater European experience of their opponents must not be taken lightly. Basel have not only been playing in the Europa league, but they have also have had occasional Champions League football as well. Tottenham, on the other hand, have played in the Champions League only once in their history. The first leg quarter-final match between the two clubs will take place on Thursday.
Basel have also been able to beat the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United in recent seasons. They also managed to take four points off their fixtures against Manchester United, which ultimately knocked the Premier league club out of the Champions league group stages last season. Villas-Boas will also have to prioritise between the Europa league and the top four positions. Tottenham are currently in a race with Chelsea and Arsenal to finish in the top four. After the weekend’s results, the club are third in the table ahead of their competition.
However, Villas-Boas as stated in the past that he would like to win the competition, which is considered by many as a distraction. The club need to win only five matches to win this competition.
“Obviously they have recent European experience that we don’t have. They have got tremendous results in the past year with Man United and teams like Bayern – teams they have surprised. They are extremely successful and one of the best teams in the country. I’m sure that the key to the game will be both teams’ motivations and the quality of the individuals. We have to admit that we have superior players but, on the other hand, the experience Basel have makes them also one of the favourites,” said Villas-Boas.
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The FA Cup quarter-final replay between Manchester United and Chelsea is likely to be shown on television after the English football Association confirmed that the tie will be played on April 1st. As a result of this announcement, Chelsea’s Premier league encounter with Southampton has been moved. This has disappointed the Premier league strugglers, who have said in a statement that this decision causes a lot of trouble and inconvenience to the supporters. Southampton have also noted that this fixture has already been moved once in order to accommodate the TV schedule.
It was already evident after the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United that both teams were going to provide the FA with a lot of headache in terms of fixture congestion. This has been made complicated especially due to the presence of Chelsea in the Europa league. Rafa Benitez and his men will have to face even more congestion if they get past the Romanian club Steaua Bucharest in the Europa league. The European champions trail the Romanians 1-0 from the first leg. The team has already been playing two matches a week almost since the start of the season. The club could well be looking at over 60 matches this campaign if they progress in the Europa league as well.
“The game had already been moved once for the purposes of live Sky TV coverage – to Sunday, 31 March – however, the Premier League have deemed it acceptable to move the fixture once more. The club is extremely disappointed that this decision has been taken; not least because of the significant inconvenience a second change to the fixture will cause our supporters,” said a statement on the official website of Southampton. Southampton would rather play their game in hand now rather than see the rivals overtake them in the table.
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The Macclesfield Town spokesperson has criticised the decision by the television companies to select every Manchester United FA Cup match as part of the live television coverage. John Harris has pointed out that every Manchester United match in the first few rounds of the FA Cup have been selected as part of the live coverage. In fact, BBC have shown Manchester United matches on 18 occasions between 2005 and 2008. Sky, who then followed BBC for the FA cup coverage, showed United matches on four occasions. Since the arrival of ITV as the official coverage provider of the FA Cup, all the United matches have been shown without exception.
As part of the live television coverage, clubs will receive around £ 140,000 in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Harris has said that this amount is paltry to United, who recently had revenues of around £ 400 million for the last financial year. He has said that this amount will be extremely crucial in the survival of Macclesfield Town, who were recently relegated to the conference. Harris has said that television companies no longer select matches based on the potential for upset, but rather go for the matches of big clubs like Manchester United.
“When you put it like that it is farcical. When we beat Cardiff City here in the third round, the scenes at our stadium were magnificent and a giant-killing could be on the cards again. No disrespect, but is Manchester United playing Fulham more attractive to a football purist? For us, that money, £135,000, would be massive, it would save our season after relegation to the Conference, which was a huge blow,” said Harris, whose team hosted the Premier league club Wigan in the fourth round of the FA Cup. They lost the match 1-0 and were knocked out of the competition.
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The television schedule is extremely punishing on the clubs, while they also enjoy more power in football nowadays according to the manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson. The 70-year-old has always been critical of the way television has dominated English football in recent years. Most of the traditional fixtures have been changed in order to accommodate TV company requirements. Ferguson has said that it almost cost them the title on numerous occasions, while his was also recalled that United almost exclusively lost the title in 2010 as a result of it.
Ferguson has said that United had to play European and Premier league matches in the space of a few days, which took a lot out of the players when it came to their energy levels. He has said that United are always at a disadvantage when it comes to the TV schedule because people demand watching the club on a regular basis. As a result, the television companies decide to alter the fixture list of United in such a way that they are on television more often than not. United are currently top of the table with a seven-point advantage, which means that the second half of the season will be focused on United as they look to win the 20th Premier league title.
“The year we lost the title to Chelsea we played in midweek in Europe and then played a lunchtime game against Chelsea on the Saturday, and they battered us. The biggest disadvantage [in the title race] will be television because the demand for United will never weaken. If they get us playing on Saturday lunchtime after European games it will be ridiculous. We have tried to stop it but TV control these things – they absolutely control it,” said the United manager, who has always been critical of TV power.
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