Diego Costa’s supposed bite on Gareth Barry has kicked up a storm in the English media, but Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink believes that this was the result of the Everton players trying to provoke the Spain international throughout the match.
Chelsea were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, with former striker Romelu Lukaku scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory for Everton at Goodison Park. To make matters worse for the Blues, in-form striker Diego Costa saw red in the second half for an altercation with Toffees midfielder Gareth Barry.
Barry was also sent off soon after for his second booking, but the main controversy from the match was Costa’s alleged bite on the midfielder during the scuffle following the Englishman’s tackle.
When asked about the actions of his ace striker, Blues’ boss Guus Hiddink claimed the Spain international was provoked by the Everton players throughout the match.
“He was chased a bit in the game by Everton. They went after him. They knew it. It is within the rules,” Hiddink was quoted as saying by the BBC. “As a referee you have to protect the situation, but knowing and feeling this atmosphere.”
Chelsea released a statement following the game on behalf of their star striker, categorically denying that he had bitten Barry.
…Gareth Barry that led to his red card, but Diego was also very clear that he did not bite him at any point during that altercation.'(2/2)
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 12, 2016
Hiddink unhappy with fixture schedule
The Chelsea boss was also not happy with the fact that his team had to play the FA Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park just a couple of days after playing a tough Champions League Round of 16 game against PSG.
“I don’t think you must underestimate that you play Champions League and then in two days you have to play an intensive game here,” Hiddink said, according to FourFourTwo. “Not a complaint but they had to prepare one week, that was the advantage in the last 15 minutes of the game.”
The Dutchman also went on to state that the FA should step in and help English teams with the congestion in their fixture schedules. “One day more rest favoured by the FA would have been very suitable for us, but it is like it is,” Hiddink said.
Call for the FA to help English teams getting stronger?
Fixture congestion and the high competitiveness of the Premier League is something that most English clubs have to deal with. However, when one adds European football to the mix, the Premier League’s top teams have suffered in terms of results — particularly in Europe. Following a season in which no English team made it to the Champions League quarter-finals, Manchester City are likely to be the only team to reach that stage of the competition this season.
It is common practice in countries like Italy and Germany to adjust the weekend fixtures for the teams that have European football in midweek. While a similar model has been suggested for the FA, it remains to be seen whether the Premier League clubs will get such help in the near future.