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Guardiola says ‘no excuses’ as bruised Man City brace for moment of truth


London (AFP) – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told his players there will be “no excuses” if his bruised team comes up short in their triple trophy pursuit.

City face rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Saturday, just three days after their stormy Champions League mission against Atletico Madrid.

The match is the fourth in a 12-day stretch in which City also played the first leg of their quarter-final tie against Atletico and a dramatic 2-2 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League.

“I said to the players, I don’t want any excuses,” Guardiola said Friday.

“Semi-finals of the FA Cup are always hard against this side, even with the top players fit and rested.

“I’ve learned as a manager when you arrive in the latter stages in all competitions you adapt to the schedule. If you want to complain (for a safety) net, you make a mistake. It is what it is.”

He added: “We have fought every season like this and we go through, and we are going to perform well.”

Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker are major doubts for Saturday.

The pair were both substituted after suffering injuries in Wednesday’s fractious Champions League clash in the Spanish capital. 

That game ended 0-0 but City progressed to the semi-finals with a 1-0 win on aggregate.

Neither player was able to participate as City held a training session at Millwall’s ground on Friday having travelled straight to London from Spain.

Guardiola confirmed playmaker De Bruyne had required stitches in a foot wound while Walker had suffered a twisted ankle.

“They didn’t train today. We’ll see tomorrow but apparently it’d be so close after what happened on Wednesday,” said Guardiola.

The ill-tempered affair with Atletico ended with a melee involving several players from both sides in injury time and further scuffles broke out in the tunnel afterwards.

Guardiola did not want to comment immediately after the match and was still in no mood to do so after two days’ reflection.

“It’s the past,” he said. “I’m not talking about it. We have an important game tomorrow.”

One player who was able to train on Friday was defender Ruben Dias, who was an unused substitute in midweek having been out since the start of March with a thigh injury.

Guardiola said: “He did train today. It was his third session with us.”

Last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool left the defending champions just one point ahead of their title rivals in the Premier League with seven games left.

Liverpool also progressed to the Champions League semi-finals this week with a 6-4 aggregate victory against Benfica.

The semi-final at Wembley will either end Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple or extinguish City’s hopes of becoming only the second English team to win the prized treble of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

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