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Al Hilal manager blasts FIFA for Chelsea ‘favouritism’ ahead of Club World Cup clash

Leonardo Jardim believes that European teams at the Club World Cup have been shown too much favouritism from FIFA.

With the Al Hilal head coach railing against a schedule that has seen them have to play an additional game in Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi Arabia champions defeated hosts Al Jazira 6-1, a record win in the competition, on Sunday to reach this stage.

Odion Ighalo, the former Manchester United and Watford striker, scored on debut with Matheus Pereira also finding the net. Pereira scored twice in West Bromwich Albion’s 5-2 win at Stamford Bridge last season.

And that exertion means Jardim believes the European teams who get a bye to the semi-final have been given additional help that hurts the competitive balance of the tournament.

“I’d like to give a warning to FIFA because I find it unfair some teams have to play four matches in eight days and other teams, the best, have to play two matches with their teams rested,” he said.

“There should be better care with the match schedule to recover so Asia and South America can have ambition to win this cup.”

Jardim, who was speaking through a translator, may have misspoken when mentioning South America because the Copa Libertadores teams also begin their campaign in the last four.

Chelsea last played at lunchtime on Saturday, beating Plymouth Argyle in extra time in the FA Cup fourth round, and have had the most taxing schedule of any English club as a result of their participation here.

“I’m sure that the European teams, in this case Chelsea and previously Liverpool, are always the favourites,” Jardim added.

“No doubt about that but we have additional favouritism when Al Hilal has two days to recover and of 24 teams are all the same when one team comes out fresh.

“Our victory from the previous match mirrors that – Al Jazira had difficulties in the second half. If they were rested the match would have been different I think. Especially in the second half.”

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