Pep Guardiola praises Man City duo Fernandinho and John Stones as injury worries are eased
Here are your Manchester City evening headlines for Wednesday, April 27.
Pep Guardiola praises two Man City players for unusual roles played vs Real Madrid
Pep Guardiola hailed Fernandinho for his fine performance as an emergency right-back against Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior. The veteran midfielder stepped in as a substitute when John Stones — who had been a big doubt for the game — pulled up with an injury after 36 minutes.
That meant the Brazil international was asked to play right-back for only the second time in City colours, after filling that role against Swansea in 2017 — when he was also asked to be a left-back in the following game against Bournemouth. Fernandinho had a fine game, especially going forward, although he failed to stop Vinicius as he raced through to make it 3-2.
On the flip side, Fernandinho’s interception and quality cross had teed up Phil Foden for City’s third, and he sent Riyad Mahrez clear for another great chance which the Algeria international fired against a post. Fernandinho stood up defensively after his error and was praised by Guardiola, who also expressed his gratitude to Stones for playing despite not being fully fit.
Bad news for Real Madrid as Man City should be even stronger for Champions League rematch
City were unplayable for the opening half-hour of their Champions League classic against Real Madrid. And the bad news for the Spanish aristocrats is that – barring an injury disaster against Leeds on Saturday – they should be even stronger for the return leg in the Bernabeu next week.
The news that both John Stones and Kyle Walker trained with the squad on Tuesday, ahead of the first leg, despite being absent for the opening 15 minutes of the session, when the media were present, puts a new complexion on the trip to Spain. Pep Guardiola took a chance on Stones, who only lasted 36 minutes before feeling his tight hamstring again, resulting in Fernandinho stepping into the right-back role.
That meant City ended the game with only centre-back pairing Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte from their regular back four, with Oleks Zinchenko slotting in at left-back. Zinchenko and Fernandinho did extremely well, but there is a real prospect that the Blues could have first-choice full-back pair Walker and Joao Cancelo back next week.