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Ajax weekend off is not fair, claims Pochettino

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Dutch football authorities postponed Eredivisie fixtures to give Ajax more time to prepare. Xinhua

LONDON (AFP) – Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says it is “not fair” that Ajax have the weekend off ahead of their Champions League semi-final while Spurs faced a testing Premier League match against West Ham.

Spurs hosted their London rivals on Saturday ahead of the first leg of their European last-four clash against Ajax at home tonight.

Dutch football authorities postponed this weekend’s Eredivisie fixtures to give Ajax more time to prepare for the game.

“It is difficult. I understand that in this type of situation everyone can have an opinion,” Spurs boss Pochettino told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I know the Premier League and the FA tried to help us to prepare the semi-final.

“But the Premier League is completely different to the Dutch league. Football in Europe is completely different to England.”

Pochettino, whose side are third in the Premier League, said Ajax would have more time to prepare and would be avoiding risk by not playing.

“When you play Saturday and you must play Tuesday, and you compete in a derby game playing for big things, the concentration and effort is massive,” he said.

“You can always have some problems. But it’s not a complaint. Only the fact is that I think it’s not fair.

“Like it would be if it was the opposite. If we had one week to prepare the semi-final and Ajax played Saturday, it would be the same in my mind.” Tottenham’s hectic fixture schedule makes it hard for their game against the Hammers to be played at another time.

Echoing a similar scheduling complaint from Pochettino before their last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, Spurs defender Danny Rose earlier this week said English teams should be helped out by the authorities.

Pochettino says Premier League sides face more of a challenge compared to their European counterparts because of the gruelling nature of the English game.

But the Argentine is frustrated Ajax will have an advantage ahead of Tottenham’s first European semi-final since the 1984 UEFA Cup. “I don’t want to create a debate but the fact is, playing a Champions League semi-final, I think both teams should have the same time to prepare,” he said.

“We need to accept, it’s not a thing to complain about, we are in England, the toughest competition in the world.

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