Chelsea consider complaint over ‘dangerous’ surface for Dynamo Kyiv tie

Dominic Fifield in Kyiv on 13 March 2019

Maurizio Sarri has described the Olympic Stadium pitch as “a disaster” and “very dangerous” ahead of Chelsea’s Europa League tie against Dynamo Kyiv, with the visitors to consider making an official complaint to Uefa over the state of the playing surface.

Chelsea broke with recent tradition and trained at the stadium on the eve of the last-16 tie, which they lead 3-0 after the first leg, with Sarri and his coaching staff making clear their displeasure at the condition of the turf as they inspected areas of the pitch. There are muddy patches dotted around the uneven surface, a legacy of the harsh Ukrainian winter, and fears that areas of the pitch watered prior to the game will freeze as temperatures plummet around the 8pm kick-off, making it even more treacherous.

“[It’s] a disaster,” said Sarri, who would normally have overseen training back at Cobham on the day before an away tie in Europe. “The pitch is not good. I think that it’s dangerous, really dangerous. It’s really dangerous to play any football here in this moment, and I think it’s really very dangerous for injuries. But the situation is this. So we have to accept the situation. We have to play on this pitch.

“ I don’t know the reason it’s so bad: probably the winter. It’s a problem for us, but also for our opponents, I think. I played here two years ago [with Napoli] and the pitch was wonderful. I think it will be very difficult, also, for Dynamo because the pitch is no good.”

Dynamo have lost only two of 14 home European ties and beat their local rivals, Arsenal Kiev, 4-0 at the stadium on Sunday scoring all four of their goals prior to half-time. “There isn’t another solution, but I cannot understand why Uefa are so, so (concerned) about having to present the player list at a certain minute, but then we have to play in such a bad pitch. It is very very dangerous.”

“We know that we have to take care of ourselves,”said Willian, a former Shakhtar Donetsk player returning to Ukraine. “Sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes it happens, you get injuries. But I hope, tomorrow, we just play well and win this game. It will be difficult to play our football, but we have to adapt.”

Sarri is wary of the threat posed by Dynamo in this return fixture, even with his side leading by three goals, and will be without Gonzalo Higuaín, who was unwell with a fever earlier in the week, back in London. The Italian is expected to grant Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu game time at some stage at the Olympic Stadium, with Eden Hazard and Jorginho likely to start on the bench.

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The Italy midfielder’s substitution against Wolves on Sunday had prompted some cheers among the home support at Stamford Bridge. “I think this is unfair from them,” said Willian. “Of course I don’t want to stay here talking about this situation, but when they do that, we don’t feel good inside the pitch. So, even when the players aren’t in good moments or playing well, we need the fans to support us until the end of the game. So Jorginho is very important for us, a very good player. We know his quality. We just need to continue to play in the same way.”

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