Football

Christmas fixtures harming Premier League sides in Europe, says Gary Lineker

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Gary Lineker believes Christmas fixture congestion is preventing Premier League sides from reigning in Europe.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have won the Champions League in the last decade but there were no Premier League sides in the quarter-finals of the competition last season - a scenario which also occurred during the 2012-13 campaign.

And Lineker believes the hectic festive period and frenetic pace of the English game is hampering Premier League sides in their quest for Champions League and Europa League glory.

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"We completely kill ourselves in the Christmas period with the madness of our fixtures. Boxing Day, New Year's Day, okay, do that, but why the middle Saturday as well? Get rid of that one and replays in cup competitions," the Match of the Day and BT Sport presenter said, according to the Telegraph.

"You've got to remember as well that our football is more frantic than in other countries like Spain or Germany, so we don't really help ourselves. You come to February and all the other major countries have had a little break but we've been going bang, bang, bang.

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"You could see it last season with Chelsea, they are a better team than PSG but looked shattered (in their Champions League last-16 tie). You're going to get the odd game where half-a-dozen players are dead on their feet and that's what happened.

"Whilst in the past we have been successful, but nothing like as successful as were when it was a straightforward knock out competition, one or two of our successes have been quite fortuitous in the Champions League.

"I'd like to see us do better. We can compete but we don't help ourselves, and it's the same with international football.

"We've got a good league, it's quite entertaining, but it's not really thought out in terms of Champions League and international football."

The two Manchester clubs get their European campaigns underway on Tuesday with United at home to new boy Memphis Depay's former club PSV Eindhoven, whilst City face last year's finalists at the Etihad.

There is a strong belief this season that City in particular can go the distance in the Champions League given their emphatic summer of spending and start to the new season, though history suggests otherwise.

Arsenal and Chelsea make up England's four representatives on Europe's greatest stage. The London outfits face Olympiakos and Porto respectively next week, with the pair both eyeing improved stints this season given their defeats to Monaco and PSG last campaign.

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