LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri said it was tough for English clubs to reach the end of the season in the sort of shape required to win trophies because they have to play so many more matches than their European rivals.
Despite the challenging schedule, Sarri’s Chelsea became the fourth English side to reach a European final on Thursday when they beat Eintracht Frankfurt in a penalty shootout after their tie had finished 2-2 over two legs and extra time.
Chelsea will meet fellow London side Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29 before Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur in another all-English final in the more prestigious Champions League in Madrid on June 1.
“It’s not easy for an English team to arrive in the last month in a good condition physically,” Italian Sarri said.
“We play more than other countries. We played match 61 today. It’s a big difference with other countries.”
Chelsea have the final match of the Premier League against Leicester City on Sunday then a friendly to play in the United States before earning 10 days’ rest to prepare for the final.
“Here (in England) the level is very high,” Sarri added.
“To get into the League Cup final (in February) we had to play Liverpool and Tottenham and then played the best team in Europe, Manchester City. The Premier League is the best league in the world.”
Chelsea lost that final on penalties but came out on the right side of Thursday’s shootout at Stamford Bridge with Eden Hazard scoring the winning spot-kick.
Sarri said he had been unable to watch.
“I did not want to suffer,” he said.
Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Huetter, who had been hoping to take the German club to their first European final since 1980 when they won the UEFA Cup, said the disappointment was immense.
“The heads are hanging low,” he said. “It was a dream to get to the final that did not happen.”
Reporting by Clare Lovell, editing by Nick Mulvenney