Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has expressed his disbelief that UEFA have allowed CSKA Moscow to host their Champions League tie despite concerns about the condition of the pitch, ESPN
CSKA’s last home European tie, a 3-2 win over Viktoria Plzen, had to be moved to Zenit St. Petersburg’s ground when the pitch at the Arena Khimki was deemed unplayable. But Pellegrini feels that if there has been any improvement to the playing surface from then to now, it is barely noticeable.
“Of course I’m surprised,” Pellegrini said at his pre-match press 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,” the Chilean added.
Pellegrini went on to say that if the weather turns he is unsure the match will even go ahead because of the state of the 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,” he claimed. “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.”
UEFA responded by insisting that while the pitch may not look to be of the highest standard, it has been the subject of rigorous scrutiny. “The pitch has been monitored and inspected over the last weeks and has been deemed playable – even if it might not look impeccable, aesthetically,” a spokesman was quoted as saying. “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.”
City go into the game second in Group D with three points from their opening two games. Bayern Munich top the standings with six points, while CSKA are third, level on points with City. Plzen have yet to register a point and meet holders Bayern on Wednesday.
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