Pep Guardiola does not want his Manchester City to relax ahead of the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Sporting CP, even though they go into the match with a 5-0 lead.
Goals from Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva (x2), Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling saw City earn a huge result in Portugal, which puts them in good stead ahead of the return tie at the Etihad Stadium.
“We don’t have many, many players – we have just 14 available, we have a few problems – suspension for Kyle [Walker], Joao [Cancelo] can’t play,” warned Guardiola during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“Of course, we got an incredible result in the first leg and it’s 5-0, but nothing is done. Football is unpredictable.”
Particularly at the back, City will have a somewhat experimental line-up in place, as Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias are injured, Joao Cancelo is ill and Kyle Walker is suspended.
Also, given that Kevin De Bruyne would miss out on the first leg of the quarter-finals if he picks up a booking, he is unlikely to feature against Sporting on Wednesday night.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he is short of players for the second leg of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie against Sporting Lisbon.
City go into the game with a 5-0 lead from the first leg in Portugal.
Oleksandr Zinchenko may start for City, who are without the suspended Kyle Walker, while Joao Cancelo is ill and Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias are injured.
“We have only 14 players available. We have three defenders so we have to adapt,” said Guardiola.
No side has ever recovered from a five-goal first leg deficit in the Champions League. However Guardiola, who guided City to the final last season, insisted that the tie was not over despite his side’s commanding advantage.
“Football is unpredictable in many cases – [there] can be red cards, can be distractions or the qualities of the opponent and that’s why we will take a top side as much as possible,” added Guardiola.
The Spaniard also stressed that he was still angry with Walker for his dismissal in City’s final group match against RB Leipzig, the suspension now exacerbating City’s selection problems.
However, Guardiola said he would have few concerns about playing Zinchenko if he were needed, despite the Ukraine international having been badly affected by Russia’s invasion of his country
“He is ready,” said the City boss. “Of course it is not an easy period for him, absolutely not, but I think he will be ready just in case he has to play.”
Guardiola also suggested that Kevin de Bruyne, who is one booking away from a suspension, may not start the game for the Blues.