Manchester City are chasing a rare treble
London (AFP) - Pep Guardiola says Saturday’s Eurovision final has given him a headache as he seeks to keep Manchester City’s treble bid on track.
The Premier League leaders face a crucial trip to relegation-threatened Everton on Sunday, three days before they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
City boss Guardiola would have preferred the Goodison Park clash to be played on Saturday but, with the Eurovision song competition being staged in Liverpool that day, his wish could not be granted for security reasons.
With City playing second fiddle to the globally-watched singing event, whose final features 26 countries, they could be at a disadvantage by the time they face Real.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who are out of contention for the Spanish title, face Getafe in La Liga on Saturday and will have a day’s extra rest heading into Wednesday’s encounter.
The tie is finely balanced after the first leg finished 1-1 in Madrid on Tuesday, but Guardiola said all thoughts about the Champions League had been banished ahead of the trip to Everton.
Any slip-up at Goodison Park would open the door again to second-placed Arsenal, who are just one point behind City, although they have played a game extra.
“My thought is just Everton, no more than that,” he said. “Eleven months working for the Premier League, I don’t want to be distracted for Madrid because I won’t have time.
“Well, not much, because we play Sunday – thank you so much. I don’t understand it, but I don’t want to fight for that any more.
“In the end we can’t play Saturday because of Eurovision or something like that in Liverpool and we don’t have enough bodies to handle two important events sometimes.
“OK, you have to adapt. What can I do? We’d prefer to play Saturday to be able to prepare but it is what it is. I’m pretty sure the Premier League want to help the teams. I don’t think they make it uncomfortable.”
City could face a tough challenge against an Everton side who hammered European hopefuls Brighton 5-1 in their last outing.
Real defender Dani Carvajal has suggested the intensity of City’s fixtures could benefit the Spanish side, but Guardiola is confident his players can rise to the challenge.
“Every player is ready to play and give his own absolute contribution,” he said.
“I thought a lot about a substitution in the Bernabeu. I decided on players on the bench that are so dynamic – Phil (Foden), Julian (Alvarez), Riyad (Mahrez).
“But in the moment we didn’t need that, we didn’t need a player to increase our rhythm. But everybody will be so important, we have a lot of games and everyone is ready.”