Man City manager Pep Guardiola is about to drop Manchester United team selection hint

Manchester City play Marseille in the Champions League and Manchester United in the Premier League this week.

Posted  377 Views updated 12 months ago

Pep Guardiola could be forgiven for having one eye on Saturday's Manchester derby this week, even before taking on Marseille in the Champions League.

Manchester City have an advantage over rivals United in that they have already secured their spot in the Champions League last-16, whereas their next Premier League opponents must travel to RB Leipzig and pick up a result to book their own place in the knockout phase.

But while City have won their group with a game to spare, Pep Guardiola insists he will approach the final Champions League group game against Marseille seriously, as the French side can still qualify for the Europa League knockout stages.

For that reason, Guardiola says he will approach the game seriously to respect the competition so as not to give Marseille any clear advantage in their quest to better Olympiacos's result at home to Porto.

He said: I wanted the guys to play 90 minutes and most of them are not going to play Wednesday and the guys who didn't play today will play Wednesday.

City's next league game is away to United on Saturday

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"I decide to play 90 minutes with these guys and a fresh 90 minutes for the rest of the players. After that we will see the best selection for the next games.

"In the Champions League, we did the job. There is prestige as a bonus if we win the match. It will be a serious match, we must respect the competition because Marseille and Olympiacos play for the Europa League.

"We have to play seriously, that's for sure. And the players who were on the bench (against Fulham) will be able to play."

As well as the prestige Guardiola refers to, City would also pocket £2.45m for another group stage win, and £800,000 if they were to draw. If he was to call upon those players who didn't play against Fulham on Saturday, it would still mean a strong starting line up.

That could mean starts for Zack Steffen, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Ferran Torres, who all got 90 minutes off. Kyle Walker, Aleks Zinchenko and Nathan Ake were not in the squad at all, while Sergio Aguero is back in training and might be in contention.

There is also the chance for Guardiola to call up some youngsters for some more valuable Champions League experience. Cole Palmer, Tommy Doyle and Felix Nmecha have all made substitute appearances for the first team in Europe this season, while Adrian Bernabe and Taylor Harwood-Bellis could also feature.

Liam Delap won't be eligible, however, and is likely to feature for the under-21s in their Papa John's Trophy round two clash at Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday. The line up for that game could give more of an indication of how many youngsters Guardiola is planning to use against Marseille.

If the rested players against Fulham return, that will mean likely rests for key players like Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Rodri and Raheem Sterling, among others. Gabriel Jesus is still the only fully-fit striker, and Guardiola must decide how important Champions League prestige is against the chance to give the Brazilian a rest.

In truth, it will be more interesting to see who is not involved against Marseille, rather than who is, as the selection will give a strong indication of who will be involved at Manchester United on Saturday. Guardiola's recent rotation management means the majority of his squad will be as fit as they can be at this stage of a difficult season so his selection at United will be mostly for tactical reasons.

Some places are fairly certain - Ederson, Dias, Rodri, De Bruyne, and Sterling would all expect to line up at Old Trafford. Others, though, are less guaranteed, and Guardiola's decision over who is saved for the United trip could be the clearest indication this season of who he feels is his current strongest starting XI.

Kyle Walker is surely part of that side, but Joao Cancelo did well against Fulham, and Guardiola's suggestion that rested players will face Marseille would suggest Walker is in line to play at right-back on Wednesday, leaving Cancelo the fitter option to face United. Then there is John Stones, who has started three of the last four games while Aymeric Laporte has sat out completely.


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