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Hiddink all but concedes Champions League qualification

Guus Hiddink says Chelsea cannot qualify for Europe's top competition.

Football - Chelsea - Guus Hiddink Press Conference - Chelsea Training Ground - 5/2/16 Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the Press Conference Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs/ Livepic
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the Press Conference Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs/ Livepic
 

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Until Sunday's draw with Manchester United, Chelsea's Guus Hiddink believed his side could qualify for next season's Champions League with a top-four finish but he has now virtually written off their chances.

A new head coach will be at Stamford Bridge next season after interim manager Hiddink's tenure ends, but the next incumbent is unlikely to oversee a 14th successive season of Champions League football according to the Dutchman.

Hiddink now thinks it is unlikely Chelsea will finish in the Premier League top four and also believes they have a huge task ahead of them against runaway French league leaders Paris St Germain when they meet in the last 16 over the next few weeks.

Sunday's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge left the champions 13th in the table, seven points clear of relegation but 17 points off fourth spot.

"Even before, when we were one point ahead of the relegation zone, I said our target must still be the fourth place but... I also said we had to start winning.

"Of course, we are unbeaten (since I arrived), but to get into fourth place you must have your victories and we are having too many draws to get to fourth place now.

"It is difficult. I have not calculated exactly, mathematically - it might just be possible but we have to start winning again."

PSG FAVOURITES

Since Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho in December, they have played nine league matches, winning three and drawing six, which is not Champions League form.

Hiddink also fears a repeat of last season's Champions League elimination by PSG, who knocked out a far more confident and in-form Chelsea side on away goals at the same stage.

PSG are in superb form in Ligue 1 and were unbeaten in 19 matches in all competitions before facing Olympique Marseille later on Sunday.

Hiddink added: "If you look at their (PSG's) record they are unbeaten for a long time, which is showing how strong they are.

"As you know they kicked Chelsea out last season so you can consider them the favourites."

Chelsea face PSG in Paris on Feb. 16 with the return at Stamford Bridge on March 9.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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