Chelsea settle for Sunday service with Spurs despite potential European semi-final
21:30 GMT, 28 March 2012
Chelsea will not contest the decision to play their FA Cup semi-final on a Sunday even though it looks certain to leave them at a disadvantage in Europe.
The Football Association will not ask Liverpool to play on Sunday, April 15 because it is the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, so their semi-final against Everton will be held the previous day.
It also makes sense for travel reasons to avoid a Merseyside derby in London on a Sunday but it will deny Chelsea extra recovery time if they defend a 1-0 first-leg lead and knock Benfica out next week.
Victors: Chelsea beat Benfica in their quarter-final first leg clash
The first leg of their Champions League semi-final would be played on Wednesday, April 18 and, although it is at Stamford Bridge, their opponents – be it AC Milan or Barcelona – will enjoy at least one extra day to recover from their weekend game.
Barcelona are scheduled to play away at Levante and Milan at home to Genoa, both on the Saturday, although, with help from the Italian FA, Milan have moved some games to Friday this season to extend preparation time for the Champions League.
Chelsea, however, face the possibility of extra-time and penalties at Wembley against Tottenham on the Sunday and hope the FA will offer some help with an early kick-off time.
Battle: Chelsea and Tottenham played out a goalless draw last weekend
Roberto di Matteo has urged the authorities to do more to support English teams in Europe but the FA and the Premier League are anxious to protect the integrity of their own competitions and not be seen to favour one club above another.
Further complicating Chelsea's case is the fact that Tottenham could lose out if Chelsea win the European Cup and finish fifth in the Premier League because they would then qualify for next season's Champions League at the expense of the team finishing fourth.