‘I said to the players’ – Guardiola reveals what he told Man City squad ahead of Liverpool clash

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has implored his players to ‘come back fit’ for their upcoming clash against Liverpool.

Last season’s top two in the Premier League face off at the Etihad Stadium on 1 April in the first match after the international break for both teams.

The two clubs will have a plethora of players involved with their countries before then, but one man has already fallen victim while away with his national team.

The Norwegian FA has reported that City striker Erling Haaland has returned to the club, having been forced to withdraw from Stale Solbakken’s squad due to a groin problem.

That has already scuppered Guardiola’s wishes, with the manager having said prior to the news emerging (via Liverpool Echo): “For me, it’s perfect as I will go to Barcelona and Abu Dhabi so it’s perfect. I pray that no-one comes back with an injury.

“I said to the players – come back fit. You know exactly what you need. You work here every day with our incredible staff and backroom staff. What you need to be fit, you need to do it in the national team and, hopefully, the managers take care of the players as much as possible.

“The week now is rest, go with the national team, come back and three days to prepare for Liverpool and we will see what happens next.”

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Although no specific timeframe has been placed on Haaland’s injury, duly leaving open the possibility that he could feature against Liverpool, his potential absence would be an undoubted blow for the champions.

His staggering record of 42 goals in 37 games for City (Transfermarkt) speaks for itself, but even if he’s ruled out, the Reds would still need to shackle other potent threats such as Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez.

Guardiola’s plea for his players not to come back injured from international duty could be interpreted as a realisation by the manager that, despite Jurgen Klopp’s side enduring a difficult season, they remain one of the Cityzens’ thorniest opponents.

The 52-year-old has faced Liverpool 19 times in his current role, winning only six of those matches and losing eight (Transfermarkt).

City’s 3-2 win against us in the Carabao Cup just before Christmas ended a run of three consecutive Reds victories between the clubs and was their first win in six meetings against the Merseysiders.

Even though his team sit four places and 19 points ahead of us in the Premier League table, Guardiola still seems to treat the visit of Klopp’s team as one of the toughest fixtures on his calendar, going by what he’s told his squad prior to the 1 April clash in Manchester.

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