October 11, 2022

Pep Guardiola has advised his players to ‘sleep, sleep, sleep’ ahead of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool on Saturday.

The match will be City’s second against Jürgen Klopp’s side in seven days following Sunday’s Premier League draw and their third game of the week following Wednesday’s attrition draw at Atlético Madrid. Although Guardiola would prefer a less crowded schedule, he is not complaining about City competition on all fronts at the crucial end of the campaign.

“It happens for a reason: because we are fighting for all the titles,” he said. “This is good news; I say this with a big smile, it’s not that I’m grumpy. I’m so happy to be living this. It’s not an ideal situation but where in this world is an ideal situation ?

“Look what’s happening two, three hours from here [the Russia-Ukraine war]. So for tomorrow I tell my players: ‘Eat well, sleep a lot, take a nap. Sleep, sleep, sleep – many hours, as many hours as possible, then good food and tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. we will be there [for the kick-off].”

Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker have serious doubts after the respective foot and ankle injuries they suffered in Madrid. “They didn’t train today,” Guardiola said. “We’ll see tomorrow but apparently it would be so [too] closed after what happened on Wednesday. He [Walker] had a big twist, and he’s getting better but we’ll see the process for the next few hours and days for the next games.

Zack Steffen served as City’s domestic cup keeper in place of club No.1 Ederson. Guardiola hasn’t decided if the American will start against Liverpool.

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“I’ll think about it,” he said. “We still have until practice tonight. [Friday] then speak with doctors and physios regarding the condition of many players. Tonight or tomorrow morning I will decide, but of course in the FA Cup normally we face Zack.

This is City’s fifth FA Cup semi-final under Guardiola, despite reaching just one final. “It’s an incredible achievement and it shows our consistency,” he said. “But we didn’t perform well in those semi-final games [that were lost]. I hope we can do a little better. We have a chance to reach the final in a storytelling tournament.

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