Manchester City’s players were patched up 71 TIMES following brutal Atletico Madrid clash, as Pep Guardiola reveals the extent of damage on his squad prior to key final weeks of the season
- Man City beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League after tough night
- Pep Guardiola revealed his squad had to be treated 71 times during the game
- The Spaniard rang the changes in Man City’s cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool
Pep Guardiola revealed Manchester City’s medical department treated members of his squad 71 times in less than three days last week.
City flew straight to London, training at Millwall, after last Wednesday’s bruising draw at Atletico Madrid in an attempt to mitigate exhaustion ahead of their 3-2 FA Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool.
But club doctors told Guardiola that the 64-hour turnaround between those knockout matches led to an unprecedented number of medical procedures.
Man City endured a tough battle out against Atletico Madrid but came through it – at a cost
‘Our physios made 71 treatments in the space between Atletico Madrid and the semi-final,’ Guardiola said. ‘Seventy-one. It’s true. The doctor came to me. It’s not for one game, it’s come from the past.
‘I don’t know how it compares but they came to tell me because it was more than usual. It wasn’t just one or two — it was a lot of players. The players gave absolutely everything.
‘We didn’t have time to train. We didn’t have time to prepare a proper semi-final against Liverpool. At Millwall, we had six massage tables on the pitch watching the guys who didn’t play in Madrid doing the session.’
Kyle Walker sustained an ankle injury at Atletico Madrid and is now wearing a protective boot
City named Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan on the bench at Wembley without any prospect of them playing, the manager claimed at the weekend. Kyle Walker is wearing a protective boot after picking up an ankle injury. Ruben Dias is back in contention to face Brighton at the Etihad Stadium tonight, with Guardiola insisting that the central defender is capable of starting if required after seven weeks out with a hamstring injury.
If everyone is fully fit, Guardiola has 17 senior outfield players to choose from and maintained that is a large enough squad to challenge for silverware on all fronts.
‘I like to work with not a big, big depth of squad,’ he added. ‘From my experience, in a humble way, I’ve lived this situation many years in my life, fortunately, as I have been in top clubs — Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City.
Manchester City’s players were delighted to come through the tie but the squad is thin
‘We arrive in the latter stages, fighting for all competitions many times. And I learned from that, that if you want to fight, you have to be fit.
‘In the 10 days against Liverpool, Atletico, Liverpool, Atletico, you need many players, but not necessarily 25 or 27. I don’t like it, it’s difficult to handle.
‘You need 16, 17 or 18, who you have to have fit, otherwise it’s difficult to handle all of the competitions. This is not an argument, it’s a fact, I lived it.’
Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn on the question whether he got Saturday’s selection wrong
Guardiola continued: ‘I get asked if I regret my selection (on Saturday). Are you saying that these players don’t deserve to play for Manchester City? Who are we to tell them? I want to win, the players want to win. Tell me the selection is bad before the game (in future).
‘What would happen if the first goal of Liverpool, the cross from Andrew Robertson is given out? What happens then? We don’t know. What happens in the first minutes if Jack Grealish scores?
‘Many things in a game can happen. We had chances.’
MANCHESTER CITY v BRIGHTON, 8pm, Etihad Stadium, LIVE on talkSPORT.