Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has claimed European football can be tougher for England's Europa League contenders than it is for their Champions League counterparts.
The Magpies face Maritimo at St James' Park on Thursday knowing victory would ensure their progression from Group D. However, a gruelling schedule - this will be their 20th game of the season - has taken its toll and with Tottenham and Liverpool having also experienced difficulties, Pardew believes they are having it tougher than Champions League quartet Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
"I think it's harder for us, I genuinely do," he said. "The four Champions League teams have the finance to attack that with two squads, really, whereas we are attacking a competition that has many more games, a heavier schedule and a more difficult night, Thursday night, with a much-reduced squad, so of course it's much more difficult for us."
He added: "You have only got to look at the other two clubs in the competition and we are all having very similar seasons at the moment - and they are stronger clubs than us, financially.
"It just goes to show you that it does make a big impact on your Premier League situation.
"But you want to be in a competition that gives you some fighting chance in your own league, and this is very difficult, and we all know that as Premier League managers."
Pardew has called for UEFA to look at the format of a competition which he feels puts Premier League teams at a disadvantage because of the number of domestic fixtures.
He said: "I do feel that perhaps it needs to be looked at a little bit. Whether Spanish clubs and German clubs have that same opinion, I'm not sure."
Newcastle will run out against the men from Madeira knowing a win to go with the two they have enjoyed over Bordeaux and Club Brugge on Tyneside, and the draws they managed on the Portuguese island and in Belgium, would extend their interest into the competition until 2013.
- Sports & Recreation
- Champions League
- Europa League