Written By Onyeka Daniel
It’s less than 5 days to the final of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester City and Inter Milan and for the English Premier League side, they may have to play the match without one of their important players due to injury.
Over the weekend, City defeated their city rivals, Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup to lift their second trophy in their treble dream with the final at the Ataturk Olympic stadium being the crown of the trophies to be won but England defender, Kyle Walker could be missing in this important game.
He picked up an injury in the 2-1 win over United and coach of the team, Pep Guardiola has confirmed that the player is yet to recover from the injury. The right-back did not play a part in an open training session on Tuesday as Man City ramped up their preparations for Saturday’s clash with Inter Milan.
But Walker was one of a number of players made available for media interviews later on Tuesday and he insisted the problem was not serious. “I’m fine, I’m just getting old,” he told Sky Sports News.
“I’m completely fine, it’s just an extra day of recovery. “I’ve played a lot of minutes over the last number of weeks so the manager said, ‘Just stay inside and come Saturday you will be raring to go’.
“I’m fine, the minutes that I’ve played when everyone else was injured, I was there digging my heels in and getting through it. I won’t be missing the Champions League final for anything.” He further added. Guardiola also said Walker’s absence from training was only precautionary.
“He has had a disturbance in his back,” said Guardiola at a press conference. “Yesterday he was not good, today he was a little bit better but we didn’t want to take any risks. We will see what happens in the next days.”
City are bidding to win the Champions League for the first time and complete a glorious treble after their Premier League and FA Cup successes this season. They are also looking to erase the memory of their painful loss to Chelsea in the 2021 final.
The former Barcelona coach did confirm that they will change their approach in the Champions League Final against Inter, different from how they played against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Guardiola said that the upcoming Champions League Final against Inter won’t be the most important game of his career.
“No. It’s very important, but I’ve had others, I don’t think it’s more important than the ones with Barcelona, the one I lost against Capello’s Milan as a footballer or Chelsea,” said Pep.
Guardiola noted that Inter’s ability to build up from the back with goalkeeper André Onana is one of the potential threats to his team. Identifying the space and emptying the midfield is a special quality.”
“Then they use long balls with Dzeko, Lukaku, Lautaro and Correa. Plus late runs, and processes through Bastoni and Darmian and also Onana. Normally, teams have great keepers, but he is exceptional with his feet. This is another concept that must be faced.”
“You [Italians] feel comfortable saying you are not favourites, but we just accept it, and there is nothing more we can do. We want to win, but we all know Inter want the same. It will be a tough game because of their quality and defensive structure, but not only that. They do many good things, if not they wouldn’t be in the Champions League Final.”
He also gave a hint on his future at the club, all but confirming that he would be in charge for next season. Even factoring the possibility that he may not win the UCL after he was asked if he would see this season as a failure if he fails to win the elusive UCL trophy on Saturday.
“If everyone’s saying it, then it’s like this,” said Pep. “What people say doesn’t change my mind, but if everyone’s saying it, I must accept it and live with it with tranquillity. Since we won the Treble with Barcelona in the first season, every time we didn’t do the same it was a problem. We accept it and go ahead.”
Guardiola concluded by saying that he will remain at Manchester City even if he win the Champions League, having two years left in his contract. “Ask me later, if we win, but we have everything here, being here is a dream, there is everything a coach needs.
“Regardless of what happens, we’ll go ahead with the idea of improving every time. We are judged on what we do, not on what we achieve. When you win, you are good, when you lose you are not. Here it’s the same, but they give you a little more time.”
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