Pep Guardiola has been known to readily remind journalists in his news conferences that he understands how to cope with an injury crisis.

The Manchester City manager likes to recall his first Champions League final, when Barcelona faced a rampant Manchester United in Rome with Yaya Toure at centre-back, Carles Puyol shunted out to right-back and veteran Sylvinho in the other wide defensive position.

Barca dazzled during a 2-0 win that sent one of the greatest club teams in history on their way into the stratosphere.

So, when all Guardiola's senior City centre-backs were injured this season, no problem. Defensive midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri could play there - and they did exactly that during back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Atalanta.

It was the same when Benjamin Mendy missed the bulk of the past two seasons, as career midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko simply became very passable left-backs. Zinchenko still is one.

David Silva's addition to a weighty Etihad Stadium injury list last weekend meant namesake Bernardo starting in a central attacking midfield position alongside Kevin De Bruyne for Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Atalanta at San Siro.

What glorious riches, and they were cashed in as the Portugal playmaker arrowed a pass for a first-time backheel by Gabriel Jesus that fell into Raheem Sterling's stride for a first-time finish. Sterling, one of the outstanding attackers in world football, was darting in off a left flank that Leroy Sane will be unable to occupy until he recovers from cruciate ligament damage.

There are answers to most conundrums Guardiola has to address and the impression is he often revels in doing so. But the scene that unfolded from half-time onwards at San Siro will have done nothing to whet his appetite ahead of City's crunch trip to Liverpool in the Premier League this weekend.

Claudio Bravo was warming up. Fairly extensively. He was coming on.

Ederson made way as a precaution, with a thigh injury to shake off before Sunday. Guardiola will hope the injury is as minor as a miner driving a Morris Minor. And maybe a little more minor than that.

For all the exquisite talents in his outfield array, no Guardiola signing has been more pivotal to his back-to-back Premier League titles in England than his Brazil international between the posts.

It should be added that the first trophy the Spaniard won with his current employers, the 2018 EFL Cup, arrived with Bravo in goal having been a penalty shoot-out hero against Wolves and Leicester City in the earlier rounds. But what came before in his debut campaign marks the former Barcelona man's standing with the City faithful.

If Wednesday at one of European football's most famous arenas represented a fresh page for Bravo, he promptly poured some of that oil Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have been talking about this week and set it on fire.

He could do little about Mario Pasalic powering home a 49th-minute equaliser, but his first act was still to pick the ball out of the net. It recalled that mid-season spell during his nightmare 2016-17 when every shot on target seemed to herald an opposition goal. Willy Caballero was eventually called up to spare him.

There were plenty of other things Bravo might have done in the 81st minute instead of belying the experience of his 36 years and a career that has yielded two Copas America and LaLiga titles, among multiple honours.

His rash challenge on Josip Ilicic was a clear red card. Bravo became the first substitute goalkeeper in Champions League history to be sent off.

When emergency keeper Kyle Walker - apparently an enthusiast in the role during training ground penalty contests - nervously kept out the resulting free-kick from Ruslan Malinovskiy to earn harrumphing chants of "England's number one" from the City faithful, he had made more saves in the game than Bravo. It was not a statistically strong few minutes for the veteran.

The stats that loom largest over this pivotal week are Liverpool's six-point lead over the champions at the Premier League summit and the 16-and-a-half years that have passed since City last won at Anfield.

Guardiola can take heart from the resilience his depleted team showed before a baying crowd as opponents in Atalanta had the bit between their teeth.

However, if he is to be without Ederson, the inimitable thread who brought his whole tapestry together, the chances of overturning those numbers on Merseyside have shifted uncomfortably close to improbable.

Pep Guardiola is uncertain if he will have goalkeeper Ederson available for selection when Manchester City face Liverpool in Sunday's crunch Premier League encounter.

Ederson was taken off at half-time with a "muscular problem" in City's chaotic 1-1 draw with Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Having not had to make a save in the first half, Ederson was replaced by Claudio Bravo, whose first act was to pick the ball out of his net after Mario Pasalic's brilliant header cancelled out Raheem Sterling's early opener.

Matters were made worse for City late on as Bravo saw red for a reckless lunge on Josip Ilicic, meaning right-back Kyle Walker was called upon from the bench to play the closing stages in goal.

City's focus now turns to Anfield, where Premier League leaders Liverpool would extend the gap at the top to nine points with a victory, and Guardiola acknowledged Ederson may be unable to feature.

"I don't know right now. It is a muscular problem. It was not big but [we replaced him] to avoid more risk," Guardiola told reporters when asked for an update on Ederson during a news conference.

"He did not feel comfortable in the last minutes of the first half. That's why we decided to make a substitution. But for now we don't know."

Pointing at his thigh, Guardiola added: "It was muscular, in front of here. He is strong. We want to try with him, but we are not going to take a risk."

Bravo never looked settled after coming on for the second period and failed to make a save before he became the first substitute goalkeeper in Champions League history to receive a red card.

However, Guardiola has no concerns over starting Bravo, who protested his red card before the decision was eventually upheld by VAR, at Anfield if Ederson is not fit.

"It's a red card – it was given so it's a red card," Guardiola said. "He's ready. He's an incredible, experienced professional. He's ready.

"It is what it is. If Ederson is ready, he is gong to play. If not we will play Claudio. We trust him. Why should I doubt any players I have in my squad?"

Guardiola also hailed the mentality of Walker, who was immediately called into action to keep out Ruslan Malinovskiy's free-kick.

"Xavi Mancisidor, our goalkeeper coach, suggested him for his courage, because he is quick," Guardiola said of the England defender. 

"We are lucky we only conceded one shot on target when he was in goal but congratulations for the courage and desire to help the team in this position."

Claudio Bravo claimed an unwanted piece of history as he became the first substitute goalkeeper to be sent off in the Champions League in Manchester City's 1-1 draw at Atalanta.

Defender Kyle Walker ended Wednesday's match at San Siro in goal for City after Bravo was dismissed in a remarkable finish.

Pep Guardiola's men had already been dealt one blow between the posts when star keeper Ederson was substituted at half-time, having reportedly suffered a minor injury ahead of Sunday's huge Premier League clash with Liverpool.

Bravo was introduced and quickly conceded an equaliser to Mario Pasalic, cancelling out Raheem Sterling's first-half opener.

City's hopes of winning and securing their place in the last 16 with two games to spare were then hit nine minutes from time when Bravo caught Josip Ilicic with a rash lunging tackle outside his area and was shown a red card.

It was a unique scenario in the history of the Champions League and saw Walker introduced in place of Riyad Mahrez to take on the gloves, saving the consequent Ruslan Malinovskiy free-kick to protect a point.

Somewhat amusingly, Walker was the only man to make a save for City in the contest, with Pasalic's goal and Malinovskiy's set-piece all Atalanta could muster in terms of efforts on target.

Manchester City finished with Kyle Walker in goal as their progression to the Champions League knockout stages was stalled by Atalanta in a dramatic 1-1 draw.

Raheem Sterling's seventh-minute goal looked set to be paving the way for another dominant display from the Premier League champions, who thrashed Atalanta 5-1 in the reverse fixture and wanted a win to guarantee their place in the last 16.

However, Gabriel Jesus' dreadful penalty miss and the half-time substitution of goalkeeper Ederson – who reportedly had a minor injury – handed Atalanta hope, with Mario Pasalic then heading in their equaliser.

A red card for Ederson's replacement, Claudio Bravo, caused mayhem in the closing stages, with Walker, after a long delay, brought on to take his place in net, and the emergency goalkeeper held his nerve as City held firm to claim a point.

Manchester City suffered an injury scare ahead of Sunday's blockbuster Premier League showdown with Liverpool as goalkeeper Ederson was substituted at half-time in Wednesday's Champions League game against Atalanta.

The Brazil international did not have a shot on target to deal with during an opening period where City took a 1-0 lead through Raheem Sterling before Gabriel Jesus missed a penalty.

Ederson darted out of his area to make a clearance late in the half but did not appear to be in any discomfort, meaning it was a surprise to see Bravo warming up at the interval and come on for the restart.

BT Sport reported Ederson suffered a minor injury and was removed as a precaution with an eye on the trip to Anfield. Omnisport was awaiting clarification from Manchester City regarding the 26-year-old's condition.

Bravo's first act was to pick the ball out of his net after Mario Pasalic powered home a header from Alejandro Gomez's cross.

City are already without defenders Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko (both knee), midfielders Rodri (hamstring) and David Silva (muscular) and winger Leroy Sane (knee). The champions are six points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool in second after 11 matches.

Fernandinho has lauded team-mate Ederson as a complete goalkeeper after the Brazil international made two crucial saves in Manchester City's win at Crystal Palace.

City lost to Wolves before the international break but were in dominant form at Selhurst Park – quickfire goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva just reward for their display.

However, Pep Guardiola's side – who, temporarily at least, closed the gap between themselves and Liverpool to five points with Saturday's triumph – failed to add to their tally; Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Jesus squandering chances to put the result beyond doubt.

De Bruyne also had what looked a strong penalty appeal turned down, much to Guardiola's frustration, and City might have been made to pay if not for Ederson's heroics.

Having tipped Christian Benteke's header onto the bar, the former Benfica man made another fine stop to deny Wilfried Zaha in the closing stages and Fernandinho was full of praise for his compatriot.

"I think we had a very good performance, we created a lot of chances to score many more goals," said the 34-year-old, who started at centre-back alongside fellow midfielder Rodri.

"Ederson made also two important saves. If you look at the game overall, we deserved to win from the beginning. We went for it, we found the spaces, we missed a lot of chances.

"[Ederson] has shown the player he is since the day he arrived. When the club signed him, in the first training sessions, I was impressed with him.

"He's a goalkeeper and the club signed him, first of all, to save, but it's a great bonus that he can play with his feet, the quality he has to play with his feet is amazing. To me, he is a very complete goalkeeper."

With his opener, striker Jesus took himself on to 50 goals during his time at City, becoming the seventh player to achieve that milestone while being coached by Guardiola.

Jesus has now scored in his past seven starts for the club in all competitions, but Fernandinho insists no player can be sure of their place in Guardiola's line-up.

"It might be surprising but not any player has his spot guaranteed in the starting 11," he added.

"You have to prove yourself in every training session, the players know that and you have to be ready any time an opportunity comes.

"You need to understand what the manager wants and what the team needs from you. [Jesus] has understood and every time he is on the pitch, he tries to give his best, no matter if he plays 90 or 10 minutes."

Page 3 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.