In the first set of group stage fixtures, in the UEFA Champions League this season, Chelsea was the only Premier League side to win. All of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal lost their match ups.
Louis van Gaal has explained that Premier League clubs need to go all out every weekend, due to the league’s competitive nature, but then have to play in Europe in midweek as well. This is what harms their chances of winning the Champions League.
The Dutch manager said:
“The Premier League is a very difficult league,” he said. “To beat your opponent every week is not easy, it is always a struggle and a battle. Then you have to play again mid-week in the Champions League and that is the difference between all the clubs in Europe. It is not predictable to say four teams in the Premier League shall overcome this group stage round, no, it is not like that. But I have to say that we have the teams to do it and we have the quality to do it.”
“The difficulty is that all these players are in a rat race and that takes a lot out of the players, which is why you have to rotate and that is what I am doing now because I have to protect my players.”
“I am unlucky because I have only one position that is not doubled and that is the position from Luke Shaw, but I had a double because I had Blind and I had Rojo. But now who is injured? Rojo!”
“Rojo has not played so much. He has trained for three or four weeks very hard, then he played for Argentina for 70 minutes, 50 minutes against Swansea City and then 70 minutes in the last match at Southampton.”
“It was a very good building up but he is injured; that is unlucky. We can solve the problem with other players but not a specialist like Shaw. Blind is not the specialist. Rojo is more of a specialist because he plays that position for Argentina, which is why he played the last time there. The left full-back position demands more of the capacity of a player.”
“I say we have to play Sunday-Tuesday, Sunday-Wednesday, so between the matches we cannot recover all of the tiredness. Then we have to play against a European squad who is willing to give everything against us. They don’t have a rat race in their competition and that is the difference.”
LvG also spoke of VfL Wolfsburg’s summer transfers, losing Kevin De Bruyne but gaining Julian Draxler:
“He was a very young talent when I was there [in Germany, managing Bayern], so I know him,”
“He has to go on a long road like Martial, although it could be a little bit shorter because he has been playing longer on that level. He is a very good player.”
He was also asked if he saw Robert Lewandowski’s midweek 5 goals in 9 minutes romp of Wolfsburg, van Gaal replied.
“Of course I saw, but I see also the first half and Wolfsburg were very strong. It is unbelievable that it happens in nine minutes. I have seen it when I was at Barcelona and we play Valencia and we lost 3-4 having been leading 3-0, but that was in 15 minutes. A little bit less than the five in nine minutes!”
Manchester United play VfL Wolfsburg tomorrow evening, at Old Trafford.