Pep Guardiola: ‘Injuries are part of a long season’

Manchester City will look to progress closer to the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Final on Tuesday, as they travel to face Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie.

The Cityzens have been depleted by injury in recent weeks and have slipped to third in the Premier League standings, but speaking ahead of the match, Guardiola assessed that ‘injuries are part of a long season, but unfortunately in a decisive part of the season we have a number of injuries in the same area and we have to find a solution.’

The defence has been hit hardest, and Guardiola envisages that a makeshift defence may encounter problems against a side of Real Madrid’s calibre. ‘They will press high, so aggressive,’ he explained.

They are so dangerous. If you make good progress they will drop. Everybody knows, not just Pep, the strength they have on the transitions. They have incredible pace.’

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‘At the same time, you have to try to punish them, hurt them and make them feel we are here to score goals. Real Madrid can control many aspects, but we have to impose who we are.’

‘We have a little advantage that we play second leg at home, where we feel strong and incredibly confident, but we have to play 90 minutes here [in Madrid].’

Los Blancos have been galvanised by the summer arrival of Jude Bellingham, who starred against Manchester City when he was playing for Borussia Dortmund. The English midfielder has displayed exceptional versatility in the Spanish capital this season, and Guardiola highlighted that ‘what he has in his brain and mind’ is what sets him apart from other players.

‘He came to this exceptional club with Carlo [Ancelotti] who knows how to find the best position. Carlo found it and he has had an incredible season and he clicked quick. Not just for Madrid, for the national team too he has been brilliant. He has a long, long career ahead of him.’

Real Madrid host Manchester City on Tuesday, with kickoff scheduled for 20:00 BST.