Pep Guardiola has revealed that 71 treatments were administered to his weary players in the 65 and a half hours between Manchester City’s draw at Atlético Madrid and the FA Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool last Saturday.
The high number of treatments was because of the toll of “three finals”, Guardiola said – the home and away legs against Atlético and the Premier League game at home against Liverpool in between.
“Our physios made 71 treatments in the space between Atlético Madrid and the semi-final against Liverpool,” City’s manager said. “The full figure is 71, it’s true. I saw the people there. The doctor came to me. But it’s not for just one game, it’s after these three ‘finals’.
“They [the medics] told me as it was more than usual. The schedule is what it is. At Millwall [City’s training base for the Cup semi-final] we had six massage tables by the side of the pitch for players – they watched those who didn’t play in Madrid train.”
Guardiola was without Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Rúben Dias at Wembley. Walker’s ankle problem rules him out of Brighton’s visit for the league match on Wednesday but De Bruyne and Dias await fitness tests.
Dias has not played for seven weeks because of a hamstring injury but Guardiola is not concerned about putting the Portuguese defender back in. “He could [play 90 minutes],” he said.
“It depends on the game. Tomorrow’s game is so demanding. I haven’t decided on the lineup. I think maybe the last minutes for him but he could start, he could play. I have no doubts about Ruben. With Ruben, it is not a problem.
“Over seven weeks, he went to sleep at 10pm, up at 7am – lunch at the same time every day and he stays in the gym and the pool for I don’t know how long. He does it when he is fit and when he is not fit. When he says ‘I’m OK’, then he is OK.”
Despite having had to cope without Dias, De Bruyne and Walker because of injury Guardiola prefers to have a small squad. “I like to work with not a big depth of squad. I’ve lived this situation many years in my life, fortunately, as I have been in top clubs – Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City – and we arrive in the latter stages, fighting for all competitions many times.
“I learned from that: that if you want to fight to win, you have to be fit. You need 16, 17 or 18 who you have to have all the while fit, otherwise it’s difficult to handle all of the competitions and be ready for all of them in the best condition. This is not an argument, it’s a fact, because I lived it.”
Next season Guardiola hopes to have Erling Haaland in his squad. City are the frontrunners in the race to buy the Borussia Dortmund striker and talks will continue in the coming days. Personal terms and other details have been discussed and City are ready to pay the 21-year-old’s release clause if agreement is reached on all aspects of a deal.
Guardiola, pressed on the latest, said: “No answer to your question. No questions – I have no concern about what will happen in this club next season.”