Guardiola on U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen: 'We trust him'

Zack Steffen has backstopped Manchester City’s FA Cup run so far and Guardiola doesn't see that changing in the semifinals against Chelsea.

Zack Steffen has backstopped Manchester City’s FA Cup run so far, and manager Pep Guardiola doesn’t see that changing in the semifinals against Chelsea on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

“We trust him a lot. That’s why he’s here,” Guardiola said Friday.

The 26-year-old American has made 10 appearances this season, most recently in City’s 2-0 victory over Everton in the FA Cup quarterfinals on March 20. Would Guardiola be tempted to switch to first-choice keeper Ederson now that a trophy is within sight? Not likely.

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“If (Saturday) Zack doesn’t play, I’m going to lose the team,” Guardiola said. "It’s better to lose a game than lose a team. He’s played really well in the FA Cup, he’s the keeper for the USA national team.

“He’s training good and he deserves it.”

 

Steffen has played four FA Cup matches and another four in the English League Cup — City is in the final on April 25 against Tottenham. Steffen played one Champions League game and his lone Premier League appearance came against Chelsea — a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on January 3, when Callum Hudson-Odoi scored for Chelsea in second-half injury time.

 

If Steffen starts, he’ll likely face U.S. team-mate Christian Pulisic, Chelsea’s in-form winger who’s earned more minutes recently. Guardiola likes goalkeepers who are comfortable with the ball at their feet, and he says Steffen is capable.

“He can do it. He has the personality, he has composure,” Guardiola said. “Of course, no one in the world is like Edi (Ederson). There’s no keeper in the world with the quality with the feet — in the short, in the long. I don’t want Zack to do what Edi does. Zack has to do what he (does). That’s all. Try to save the balls. We’re going to try to help him concede as few chances as possible.”

Steffen, who joined City in the summer of 2019 before going on loan to Dusseldorf in Germany, tweeted on Friday: “Huge weekend ahead.”

Guardiola backs out-of-form Sterling

Guardiola said he still has trust in Raheem Sterling but the England forward must rediscover his best form to play more regularly for the Premier League leader.

Sterling has scored 13 goals in 41 games in all competitions this season with Guardiola rotating his squad amid a congested fixture schedule. He scored 30 goals in 51 games in the 2019-20 season.

The 26-year-old said this week he was still enjoying his football in a "weird" season where the form of Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez has limited his game time.

"The trust with Raheem is intact," Guardiola told reporters before Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea. "... The only reason he has played less is because there's Gabriel sometimes or Phil or Riyad and they are at a top level.

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"But his confidence? He has to have it. I can't give the players confidence, they have to have it for themselves. For me giving them confidence is to select them."

Despite the dip in form, Sterling is on course to add to his medal tally with City - who are still competing on four fronts - and Guardiola said the forward is still a vital player.

"I've said many times what we've done over these incredible years, with the amount of titles and breaking records in the process... Raheem is key," Guardiola said.

"But people talk about the past... about the quadruple. I couldn't care less. I care about today's training session."

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