Pep Guardiola mulling over which goalkeeper to pick for Real Madrid clash

By Sports Desk April 07, 2024

Pep Guardiola remains undecided about which of his goalkeepers will start the first leg of Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

Ederson, who was forced off in City’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool last month, was on the bench for the Premier League title-holders’ 4-2 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Stefan Ortega put in another solid performance, including a first-half Cruyff turn to deny in-form Palace forward Jean-Philippe Mateta the opportunity of breaking a 1-1 deadlock at half-time.

Guardiola said: “I have to think about it because Eddie (Ederson) comes from injury, he feels good, I think so, so now I have to decide if a lack of rhythm for that match, I have to decide, but we are really pleased with the (performance) from Stefan. He is an exceptional keeper.”

There was speculation over whether Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne would start at Selhurst Park, but both were on the pitch at kick-off, shortly after which Mateta fired in the opener.

It was a De Bruyne masterclass that would win it for City, who were challenged by Oliver Glasner’s hosts throughout the first half but returned from the break a far more organised side.

Rico Lewis fired the visitors into an early second-half lead before De Bruyne set up Haaland’s 19th of the league campaign, then brought up a century of goals for City with his second of the afternoon.

Guardiola’s 2023 treble-winners remain in contention to repeat the feat this season but remain one point shy of both table-toppers Arsenal and Liverpool, who are level on 71 points and separated by the Gunners’ advantage on goal difference.

Though City have experience in finding themselves deep in multiple competitions late in the season, Guardiola admitted more injuries this campaign has made the task of fielding a fresh side for every match a bigger challenge this time around.

That may mean a few changes for Tuesday’s contest – and watching a bit more of the opponent.

He said: “I know everyone wants to play but I’ll have to see. The doctors will knock on the door and say, ‘OK, you can count on this player, you can count on this player’, and after we’ll try to see Madrid.

“Because still I didn’t see a lot. I will talk with my staff that see more games than me and change the line-up and try to win.”

Palace are still looking for their first win since Glasner replaced Roy Hodgson in February but showed plenty of promise in the first half of Saturday’s home contest.

Captain Joel Ward, who recorded his 300th Premier League appearance for the Eagles on Saturday, told the club website: “I think there’s a lot of positives that we can take from that game. Obviously we created a good few chances as well and scored two goals. I think from front to back we were solid for large spells of the game.

“You’re always going to have your back up against City. Against another team we’d probably go on to win that game.”

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