A win on Tuesday night will all but secure City&aposs passage to the Champions League knock-out stages with two matches to spare. Getting qualification secured so early will be a true blessing for Guardiola who has already admitted the group stage is his biggest priority at this stage of the season.
The Blues have a dizzying 11 matches in 37 days after the final international break of the year, including a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup. Two of those 11 games being dead rubbers in which the pressure will be off will do the squad wonders, especially with big Premier League clashes with Tottenham and Liverpool on the horizon.
So, yes, the match with Young Boys will be of utmost importance even with Chelsea looming on the weekend. The manager won&apost be letting his players get complacent but that doesn&apost mean there won&apost be any changes.
It will still be a strong team, of course, but there is no use risking Erling Haaland after his knock at the weekend and the likes of Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva and Jeremy Doku could all be given the night off. As Guardiola said ahead of the game, he will need all of his squad to step up and be ready when called upon.
A lot of the Blues boss&aposs rallying cry was centred on Jack Grealish after the forward was unfortunate to be dropped against Bournemouth after his stunning display at Old Trafford. Guardiola admitted Grealish could be angry, but that&aposs exactly how he wants him on the pitch.
“I want Jack angry and I want him to play good, and then Doku – be angry that he hasn&apost played the last two games,” he said. “This is the way to maintain the consistency at that level.
“Jack is back. The way he played at Old Trafford to give us more composure and more pausa in that position was decisive for us.
“We need everyone. A lot of games come from many games in the past and everyone has to compete. Jeremy and Jack perform, and I can [also] play both at the same time.”
Though it started with Grealish, Guardiola went on to mention Ruben Dias and Josko Gvardiol, too, as they didn&apost start at the weekend, either.
“What pleased me the most is that where we came from, still in training sessions and meetings and the approach to the game everyone is there,” he said. “Ruben and Josko did not play today and the [other] guys come. If Josko and Ruben are going to play the next game, they have to be there.
“Everyone is going to be incredibly involved and compete with each other. When they don&apost play, don&apost be angry but train better the next day because the moment is coming and when you are mentally there in the head you will perform well and we will win games and you will be happy and everyone will be happy. This is what we have to do.”
One player who wasn&apost mentioned but needs to rise to the call, though, is Matheus Nunes. The midfielder made a bright start to life at City but has seen his minutes fizzle out in recent weeks.
His first showings against Red Star Belgrade, West Ham and Nottingham Forest – where he picked up a nice assist – suggested Nunes was adapting to City incredibly well and really pushing the regulars ahead of him for a starting spot. But the return to his old stomping ground of Wolves in which he was hooked at half-time – unfairly, he was probably City&aposs best player – has been a turning point.
He hasn&apost started in the league since and has only been brought on for the final twenty minutes in two of the four games. His only start since came in the first fixture against Young Boys and he was City&aposs worst player. After initially fitting in so well he instead looked out of his depth on his return to the side, reading the game wrong and repeatedly giving the ball away. That&aposs something that cannot fly in a Guardiola side.
But it&aposs still early days and more chances are going to come around. Tuesday may even be one of them. If Haaland is rested then Julian Alvarez will play up front leaving a space in midfield, one Nunes could fill. If the Portuguese does start, then he will have to rediscover his early form and prove to Guardiola he can be relied upon.
If not, Kalvin Phillips is a bleak look at what his future could be.
The transfer window has been a hectic one and City have been busy, with high-profile signings and sales aplenty.
City snapped up Croatian pair Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol from Chelsea and RB Leipzig respectively with the latest addition being Jeremy Doku. Wolves&apos Matheus Nunes then joined the Blues on deadline day. In terms of outgoings, Treble winner Ilkay Gundogan departed for Barcelona, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez moved to Saudi Arabia, and Cole Palmer completed a shock move to Chelsea.
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