Hoddle fears Chelsea overload

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Former Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle believes the club's fixture pile-up leaves Roberto Di Matteo with a selection dilemma ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.

Just 48 hours after the Wembley showdown the Blues face Barcelona in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final, while the following weekend sees them continue their pursuit of the Premier League's top-four when they face Arsenal.

It's a run of games that Di Matteo will find tough to prioritise, and Hoddle believes that will show in the Italian's selection over the next week.

"The biggest problem for Chelsea is the Sunday six o'clock kick off is not very helpful with such a big Champions League tie at the Bridge against Barcelona," he said.

"Had it been an early afternoon kick-off, it would have been different. But it must be running through Robbie's mind to play a weakened team in the sense that one or two key players will be held back as long as possible for Barcelona.

"In reality, the only thing that matters to Chelsea come the end of the season is finishing in the top four. Let's face it, it's a tough ask to overcome Barcelona over two legs, and then go on and win the final of the Champions League - that's asking too much perhaps.

"So the priority is the top four. Having said that, they would love to beat Spurs and go on and win the final and land a trophy, so it might be a weakened team in some people's eyes but, for Robbie, it won't be.

"Most managers will tell you take one game at a time, but he cannot, and certainly not under these circumstances, as it is not ideal preparation for the Barcelona tie with such a late Sunday evening kick-off. It will still be a strong team and, with their newly-regained belief, they are still going to be a tough nut for Spurs to crack.

"But Robbie will not want to risk extra-time and even penalties, so he might go for it in the final 20 minutes if it is as tight as I expect it to be."

Hoddle has managed both Chelsea and Spurs to FA Cup semi-final defeats in the FA Cup, but of late has been linked with the vacant England manager's position.

After a dominate start to the season, and brief flirtation with a Premier League title challenge, Spurs have plateaued in the final third of the season, and are fighting with Newcastle United for the fourth Champions League spot.

With Chelsea having had a resurgence under interim boss Di Matteo, Hoddle finds the semi-final too close to call.

"This cup tie is delicately poised, has so many permutations, that is so close to call. It is a most unbelievable fixture coming at this time," he added.

"In the development of both clubs' season and the ramifications for both managers, it couldn't have been more fascinating."

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Tottenham Hotspur
European News
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Roberto Di Matteo
FA Cup

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