CompetitionsPremier League

No break for Manchester City players before European final, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has no intention of resting players ahead of the Champions League final.

City still have four Premier League matches to play before they face Chelsea in the European showpiece, due to take place in Istanbul on May 29.

The first of those is also against Chelsea, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, a match in which City can clinch the title with victory.

City and Chelsea will face each other twice in the closing weeks of the season
City and Chelsea will face each other twice in the closing weeks of the season (Ben Stansall/PA)

Guardiola said: “I want to be honest, the players will not be rested to think about the Champions League final.

“Sometimes if you win the last fixture or the last two fixtures of the Premier League, always you are more involved.

“Now it’s time to try to win the Premier League as quickly as possible. It’s in our hands and we don’t depend on other results.

“It won’t be easy because of the opponent we have tomorrow but it would be good to celebrate, to enjoy it, to have time to (say to the) guys ‘we’ve done something good’ the moment we can get it.

“And after every player will be focused. It’s not necessary to tell them to be focused on the last game of the season because nobody in the club has played in the final before, apart from Ilkay (Gundogan).

“Everyone will be so focused to arrive in this final in the best condition possible.”

Guardiola has benefited from a near fully-fit squad in recent months and currently has no injury concerns as he makes plans for the final and the closing weeks of the season.

That situation contrasts markedly with that of last year and the opening half of the current campaign and has probably been a factor in their challenge for glory on multiple fronts.

Sergio Aguero has missed much of the season through injury
Sergio Aguero has missed much of the season through injury (Steven Paston/PA).

Guardiola, whose side won the Carabao Cup last month and also reached the FA Cup semi-finals, admits it is hard to pinpoint a reason for that, particularly in this pandemic-affected season.

He said: “Sergio (Aguero) had a long injury and Nathan (Ake) was long as well, Gabriel (Jesus) had Covid and one injury in the beginning in a dangerous position in the leg.

“The rest was incredible, it was a surprise. In previous seasons we’ve had many injuries, but what was the reason why, when doing exactly the same things – the same guys, the same physios, the same preparation, the same cookers and, I think, the same wives?

“I don’t know why in one season it’s perfect and the other one we struggle a lot. I think when the mood is good and you are winning games, in my experience you get less injuries. Preparation is about happiness.

“It’s curious to say because this year we’ve had lockdown and people can’t do what they want to do, but all the backroom staff have done incredibly well and that’s why we could rotate a lot of players and that helps. It’s a big compliment for them.”

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