Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes the failure of any English side to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League for a second time in three years is related to the Premier League’s relentless winter schedule.

Pellegrini’s men were dumped out at the last 16 stage by Barcelona for a second consecutive season on Wednesday as Ivan Rakitic’s solitary goal in the second leg sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Arsenal and Chelsea had earlier been eliminated by French sides Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, whist Liverpool failed to even make it out of the group stages.

“It is difficult to explain because it is a very strong league with teams that have the capacity economically to bring in very good players,” said the Chilean.

“On the other hand, possibly the fact of playing so many games in December and January whilst the teams in Germany, Italy, Spain all stop means they arrive fresher (to this stage of the competition).

“They are two very heavy months in terms of workload for us and that could be a related factor because there is no doubt the Premier League has very good teams and players.”

Whilst the Premier League sides tend to play four times in less than two weeks around the Christmas and New Year period, most of their European rivals enjoy a winter break.

In Spain, La Liga shuts down for just a fortnight, however in the Bundesliga, home of the world champions Germany, there was a five-week break between the end of December and January this year.

Barca boss Luis Enrique agreed with Pellegrini that tiredness could be a factor affecting English performances in Europe, but confessed to be a fan of the traditional Boxing Day fixtures himself.

“It is very nice for us when we are on our holidays to watch all this English football with its culture of Boxing Day.

“I saw (Manchester United manager, Louis) Van Gaal and I think (Southampton boss) Ronald Koeman complain about that this year.

“Whether that is the solution or the reason why Manchester City have gone out, I don’t know. I think a great part of that is that they have drawn Barcelona in the last 16.

“England has a special allure for the atmosphere and the number of teams that can win the league.

“Possibly in the past couple of years they haven’t had the same success in European competitions, but it is very difficult to win against the best teams in Europe.” – Agence France-Presse

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