Pep Guardiola fears Man City stars in danger over fixture pile-up

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) looks at Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on Jan. 2, 2018. (AFP/Oli Scarff)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Pep Guardiola fears Man City stars in danger over fixture pile-up

Manchester, United Kingdom: Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City return to winning ways at the end of the Premier League’s exhausting holiday schedule, but warned the English game is in danger of destroying its top stars.
City beat Watford 3-1 on Tuesday, 48 hours after the leaders saw their 18-game winning streak come to an end in a draw at Crystal Palace.
A spell of four games in 11 days has taken its toll, with City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus sustaining a knee ligament injury which will sideline him for four to six weeks.
Full-back Kyle Walker also limped off after the victory over Watford with what appeared to be a groin injury.
“We are going to check it out, he (Walker) might have a little problem,” Guardiola said.
“But what everyone saw in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have. We are going to kill them.
“The federation bosses have to reflect a little bit. It’s not normal to play (December) 31st and two days later.
“I know the show must go on, but... that is not normal.
“They (the authorities) have to control it. They don’t protect the players and they are who the people come to watch.
“Here in England you don’t protect the players, you have to look for the quality, not the quantity.”
Guardiola is the latest in a long list of high-profile managers to question the traditional English fixture schedule this season, his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho being chief among them.
And while the City manager believes in the traditions of the English game, he believes the Premier League will have to review television schedules which have led to a lopsided fixture list with some teams playing on two-days recovery and others up to five.


“Of course, space them out. I’m not saying change Boxing Day (December 26) but you cannot play at midday at Selhurst Park, come back, celebrate New Year’s Eve but are thinking about the game two days later,” he said.
“People say it’s impossible. It’s not basketball or tennis, the players need recovery. Just see how many players have muscular injuries.
“The show must go on but were have a lot of people here, to take care of them but the schedule does not protect the players.”
Meanwhile, Jesus’ loss is a blow to player and club, especially in a World Cup year that promises so much for the 20-year-old Brazilian star.
“Hopefully he will be back as soon as possible,” Guardiola said.
De Bruyne’s performance against Watford was a particularly impressive effort, given that he only passed himself fit four hours before kick-off.
“Kevin went out on the pitch in the afternoon and wanted to play,” said Guardiola.
“He had some pain but wanted to play, if he wants to play then I want him to play.”
The same was true of the returning David Silva, who had been absent due to complications involving the health of his pregnant wife.
The midfielder has been traveling between Manchester and Spain and Guardiola is prepared to give the Spanish international more time off if he requires it.
“We are very happy David is back,” he said. “We don’t know how long but he made another exhibition. He’s essential, he showed how important he is for us.
“Maybe (he will return). He’s free to stay or leave, it depends. He wants to stay because he enjoys it but family is the most important thing in life.
“It doesn’t matter if we drop a lot of points, I’d never push him. Some days he will be here, some he will be out, it depends how his family is.”


Juventus too good for Man Utd on Ronaldo’s return

Updated 58 min 20 sec ago
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Juventus too good for Man Utd on Ronaldo’s return

  • Paulo Dybala scored the winner on 17 minutes as the Italian champions opened up a five-point lead over United at the top of Group H
  • The hosts failed to threaten until Paul Pogba’s curling shot from outside the box hit the post 15 minutes from time

MANCHESTER: Cristiano Ronaldo emerged victorious again on his second return to Old Trafford, but this time did not get on the scoresheet as Juventus outclassed Manchester United to win 1-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Instead Ronaldo played a supporting role by helping set up Paulo Dybala’s winner on 17 minutes as the Italian champions opened up a five-point lead over United at the top of Group H.
Jose Mourinho’s men were handed a break before kick-off as Valencia’s 1-1 draw away to Young Boys means United still hold a two-point lead over the Spaniards, but a fourth defeat of the season will see speculation over Mourinho’s future increase once more.
But for a series of excellent saves from David de Gea, the margin of defeat could have been far greater too as any momentum United gained from fightbacks against Newcastle and Chelsea in recent weeks in the Premier League faded away against one of the favorites to win the Champions League.
Ronaldo was given a hero’s welcome on his previous visit to Old Trafford with Real Madrid in 2013 after scoring 118 goals for United in six seasons between 2003 and 2009 to help the Red Devils win three Premier League titles and the first of his five Champions Leagues.
The Portuguese’s early days as Juventus player since making the move to Italy from Madrid this summer have been overshadowed by a rape allegation made against him in the United States.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has strongly denied the allegation and been backed by his new club, who paid 112 million euros ($129 million) for the 33-year-old in July.
But the reception he received from the United faithful this time was far more muted with only a mild cheer raised when his name in the Juventus line-up was announced.
Ronaldo scored the winner in a contentious Champions League last-16 tie for Madrid five years ago, but this time played the role of provider for Dybala to be the match-winner.
His cross intended for Juan Cuadrado ricocheted kindly off Chris Smalling into the path of Dybala to sweep the ball past De Gea for his fourth goal in two Champions League games.
As Juventus dominated the rest of the first half, only De Gea stood in their way of killing the game off before the break.
The Spaniard flew to his right to save Joao Cancelo’s fiercely-struck shot then produced a fine double save to parry Ronaldo’s free-kick and swat away Blaise Matuidi’s follow-up effort.
Top scorer in this competition for the past six seasons, Ronaldo is still searching for his first Champions League goal for Juventus having been sent off after just 30 minutes of his European debut against Valencia and subsequently banned for a 3-0 victory over Young Boys.
He couldn’t have done much more with an effort that soared toward De Gea’s top corner seven minutes into the second half only to see the United ‘keeper produce a miraculous right-handed save.
Going behind brought out the best in Mourinho’s side against Newcastle and Chelsea to help ease the pressure on the manager.
But the hosts failed to threaten until Paul Pogba’s curling shot from outside the box hit the post 15 minutes from time.
Anthony Martial also tested Wojciech Szczesny late on but Juventus held out for a deserved victory.