“We are in big trouble,” Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday night. “We played three days ago against a tough Liverpool, travel, come here and have a lot of injuries right now. I’m not sure what will happen in the next weeks.” Both Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker picked up injuries in the second half against Atleti and are major doubts to face Liverpool. Here are five things Guardiola needs to consider to get the result he wants at Wembley.
Foden to step up
While he made it through the entire match without picking up an injury, Phil Foden was in the wars in Madrid, having been on the receiving end of some heavy challenges from Felipe and Stefan Savic. If the cut he sustained on the back of his head – which meant he had to wear a bandage throughout the game – is not serious then he will be needed again this weekend.
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Sit slightly deeper
Walker’s absence will be a big blow for City. The England international is a key player for Guardiola, who will have to tweak his tactics in his absence. Walker’s speed on the recovery is a massive asset for the defending champions, who can usually afford to hold a high line and rely on his pace to mop up in behind. They won’t have that luxury at Wembley.
Joao Cancelo switched from left-back to right-back when Walker went off injured in Madrid and the Portuguese star can be expected to start on the opposite flank against Liverpool. That is not a problem: Cancelo is a supremely gifted player who is naturally right-footed.
The other side of the pitch is more of a head-scratcher for Guardiola. He has generally preferred to use Nathan Ake as a left-back recently, with the Netherlands international offering defensive solidity, but Oleksandr Zinchenko is another possibility, if he wants more attacking threat on the overlap.
Jack Grealish made plenty of headlines on Wednesday night – and that was without even playing in the match. His spat with Savic can now be left behind and he should be champing at the bit to feature against Liverpool.
The £100million man has been slightly underwhelming in his debut season for City, with just four goals and five assists in 34 appearances so far, but he undoubtedly has the star quality to light up an occasion like this. Grealish’s ability in one-on-one situations can unlock the Liverpool defence.