Zinchenko 'ready' to play against Sporting - Guardiola

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Oleksandr Zinchenko is ready to play in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Sporting.

Published : Mar 08, 2022 20:43 IST

Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Oleksandr Zinchenko is ready to play in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Sporting, and that the Ukraine international could be called upon to fill in a depleted backline.

City was dominant from start to finish in the first leg to all but seal its spot in the quarterfinals with a 5-0 win, which was the joint-biggest winning margin in a Champions League knockout game.

However, the Premier League club is short of defensive options heading into the second leg, with Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake ruled out due to injuries, while Joao Cancelo will miss Wednesday's game through illness.

"Zinchenko is ready, not an easy period for him, absolutely not, but I think he'd be ready if he has to play," Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday. "We don't have many players, just 14 available, a few problems.

"Of course, we had an incredible result in the first leg, but football is unpredictable. Not many alternatives but we will put out the best team possible to win the game."


City's defensive issues has been compounded by Kyle Walker's three-match ban from UEFA competition, which came after he was sent off in City's last group stage game, a 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig, for kicking Andre Silva.

The English club appealed the decision, but had its appeal turned down by UEFA, which Guardiola said was the right outcome.

"Walker deserved the three (match ban), he did a stupid thing and he deserved it," Guardiola said. "I am still so angry with him. He knows it. He's so important for us, see how he played against Manchester United?

"Against Leipzig he did this action when we had already qualified, he deserved it. The club appealed (the ban) but I do not agree. Hopefully, he will learn for the future."

The Spaniard also heaped praise on captain Fernandinho, who is out of contract at the end of the season, and said the 36-year-old midfielder had what it takes to make the transition into management.

"Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne have been in all the meetings for the last six years and when we're playing they know what needs to happen," Guardiola said.

"At halftime when we have time to fix things they talk and every player has the freedom to do so. I love it when players talk about the game.

"I haven't spoken about knowledge, passion, license to be manager with Fernandino, but as a holding midfielder and captain, he is always thinking about the club. He has everything to be a manager."

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