De Bruyne pushing for Man City return, injury 'less' than expected

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

Kevin De Bruyne could return to action for Manchester City in Sunday's EFL Cup final against Tottenham after his ankle injury proved not to be as serious as first feared.

De Bruyne limped off early in the second half of last weekend's 1-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, with City manager Pep Guardiola saying the damage "doesn't look good".

The Belgium international was absent as his team-mates came from a goal down and endured a red card for John Stones to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and go 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Appearing visibly relieved before the match in the aftermath of the European Super League collapse, Guardiola reported further good news afterwards when De Bruyne's fitness was raised.

"It [the injury] was less than we expected, yesterday he felt much, much better," he said.

"Today I didn't speak to him but we'll see tomorrow in training."

After attempting to win a fourth consecutive EFL Cup on Sunday, City turn their attentions towards the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain.

"I think if he's not ready for the final, maybe he will be ready for the semi-final of the Champions League," Guardiola said.

Before Wednesday's game, an email attributed to City chief executive Ferran Soriano was sent to club members to apologise for signing up to the swiftly aborted Super League.

Guardiola lambasted the plans as "not sport" before anyone from his club had gone on the record, although he insisted his relationship with Soriano – which goes back to the pair's time together at Barcelona – is not in need of repair.

"I know the guys [on the board] and they don't need to apologise," he said.

"My chairman [Khaldoon Al-Mubarak] and CEO, I know who they are, this is most important. I understand the statement but it's a closed chapter, it's over."

The same might now be said for the Premier League title race, even if John McGinn's goal after 20 seconds threatened to let second-place Manchester Untied back into the hunt.

"It would have been dangeorus if we'd lost, Manchester United are in top form, but we deserve it for what we've done this season," Guardiola added, with man of the match Phil Foden equalising before Rodri headed the decisive goal.

"How incredible they were in the locker room, committed after two defeats. We knew how important it was as preparation for the final and the Champions League.

"It's close in the most difficult season of our lives. We have to finish this chapter, three games and we are champions."

Related items

  • Guardiola thanks Liverpool boss Klopp for title text: He made me a better manager Guardiola thanks Liverpool boss Klopp for title text: He made me a better manager

    Pep Guardiola thanked Jurgen Klopp for his Premier League title text message after Manchester City succeeded Liverpool as champions, saying the Reds boss has pushed him to a new level.

    Klopp described rival Guardiola as "the best manager in the world" in a news conference on Wednesday, the day after City secured a third title in four seasons.

    The text from Klopp to Guardiola was not the only one sent from Merseyside, with Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti also sending his congratulations. 

    "I received a lot. He and Carlo Ancelotti have done it," said Guardiola.

    "I appreciate it a lot from both of them. I could not answer messages, not yet, but I will do it today."

    Speaking on Thursday, Guardiola offered a salute to the Liverpool and Everton bosses, both of whom have won Champions League and domestic titles in storied careers.

    The rise of Klopp has forced Guardiola to pull out all the stops to deliver success both at City and previously at Bayern Munich, when Klopp's Borussia Dortmund were such a force.

    "It was an inspiration for me. He has made me through his teams at Dortmund and Liverpool a better manager," Guardiola said.

    "I would say thank you so much, I appreciate it a lot from him and Carlo."

    Guardiola and City may have wrapped up the club's fifth title in 10 years, but they can still secure a host of achievements before turning their focus to the May 29 Champions League final against Chelsea.

    They head to Newcastle United on Friday evening in the Premier League, and a win at St James' Park would be a 12th successive away victory for City. That would break the all-time record for the top four tiers in English football. Chelsea achieved 11 in a row in 2008 and City did so in 2017 before repeating that on their current unbroken streak of away-day successes.

    City are also one short of matching the record for clean sheets achieved away from home across all competitions by a top-flight team in a single season. They have racked up 16 shut-outs so far, one short of the record jointly held by Liverpool (1975-76), Chelsea (2003-04) and Manchester United (2008-09).

    Their away form has been something remarkable, with City undefeated in their most recent 22 games on the road.

    That is already the longest such run by an English top-flight team, but City would also surpass the record for the top four tiers of the English game should they avoid defeat on Tyneside.

    Notts County also went 22 games unbeaten away from home between February and December 2012 while in League One.

  • Guardiola sorry for Gundogan as UEFA moves Champions League final to Porto Guardiola sorry for Gundogan as UEFA moves Champions League final to Porto

    Pep Guardiola wanted Manchester City to play the Champions League final in Istanbul for Ilkay Gundogan's sake but said the move to Porto was not a problem for the club.

    City manager Guardiola has led the team to a first final in Europe's premier club competition, and they will face Chelsea on May 29 for the trophy they crave.

    UEFA declared on Thursday that the game would move to Portugal, in the wake of Turkey being added to a travel 'red list' by the UK government due to COVID-19 concerns.

    With UK tourists set to be allowed to visit Portugal from May 17, without the need to quarantine at any stage of their journey, it means supporters will be able to take up the allocation of 6,000 tickets per club.

    "If UEFA decides that, we are going to go there," Guardiola said.

    "I had a pleasure to go to Istanbul, because since my career as a football player with Barcelona, I never had the opportunity again to go there. Not even ever in the Champions League."

    City midfielder Gundogan is a Germany international but his parents are Turkish, and he has strong affection for the country.

    "For Gundogan, for Ilkay, I wanted to go there," Guardiola added. "Unfortunately, UEFA decided to go to Portugal. No problem."

    Guardiola will hope Kevin De Bruyne is ready to play in the Champions League final, but the Belgian playmaker will miss Friday's Premier League game at Newcastle United due to a muscle injury.

    "He is still injured but he's getting better," Guardiola said in a news conference on Thursday.

    "When he is fit, he will come to training and the guys who are completely fit with 100 per cent mentally and physicality will have a chance to play in the final.

    "Before that we have three games to get information about how the team is and the players to play in the last game of the season."

  • Guardiola enjoys title taste again as he hails Man City's 'massive' success Guardiola enjoys title taste again as he hails Man City's 'massive' success

    Pep Guardiola savoured his latest slice of success with Manchester City as the Premier League champions tucked into late-night pizza.

    Now Guardiola is targeting the Champions League for dessert, having clinched the trophy he regarded as the most important for the club.

    City were able to celebrate on Tuesday evening after Leicester City won at Manchester United, a result across the city that was the cue for a party at the Etihad Stadium.

    "It was so nice," Guardiola said. "Normally the unexpected parties are the nicest ones.

    "After Leicester won at Old Trafford, all together we came here in our bubble, everybody safe.

    "We drank a little bit, we danced, we hugged a lot, and we remembered how good it was, and especially at around 11.30-12 arrived 10-15 pizzas and that was the best moment of the night.

    "I was not in my perfect conditions to decide which one I ate. Here in England the party's just alcohol, it's not food, I don't understand why."

    Guardiola said City's league title, his third in five years since arriving at the club, was further confirmation of the strides the club have taken over the past decade.

    "In the last 10 years we've won five, the last eight we've won four, the last five we've won three," Guardiola said. "That's incredible. That is more important than winning this title.

    "It's massive and it means a lot of managers, top players, sports directors, many people working to achieve what we've achieved.

    "We sustained the success and work ethic ... to win three in the last five years I never expected it when i arrived."

    Guardiola predicted a Liverpool revival next season and said Arsenal would "make a step forward", describing City's march to the 2020-21 championship as "a massive achievement".

    He thanked chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak for showing faith in him, even when City were showing rocky form early this season. Guardiola signed a new contract in November, since when the team have been almost unstoppable.

    They tackle Chelsea in the Champions League final in Porto on May 29, with that the one major trophy that City still long to win.

    "The culture of the manager is so volatile: if you don't win, you'll get the sack," said Guardiola.

    "Of course the players trust you, especially if you win. Given what we have done so far in the recent past, if you start to lose they start to believe or they start to doubt to believe

    "The best way to convince them is to try to win games.

    "Personally there is a special gratitude of course to my sporting director Txixi [Begiristain], he's a friend of mine, and especially Khaldoon.

    "I travelled to see him in November and we had long discussions together and he convinced me we still have a lot of work to do.

    "I trust him a lot. Part of my happiness here and the success we've had has been because of his determination to convince me.

    "That is the big difference what I found when I had the feelings sometimes in other clubs. I've always been supported at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, [but] I've had the feeling that the manager would only be supported when he has success."

    Speaking ahead of Friday night's Premier League clash with Newcastle United, Guardiola added: "I cannot forget in my first season here when I didn't win anything, the behaviour of my chairman, and I cannot forget the big disappointment personally against Lyon the support I had from my chairman. That's why he is part of our success.

    "Now we have two weeks ahead of us and a dream come true to play in the final of the Champions League

    "And the show must go on next season. So we're going to try to be strong next season."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.