Pep quashes quadruple talk; Zidane coy over Hazard injury - GulfToday

Pep quashes quadruple talk; Zidane coy over Hazard injury

Manchester City

Moenchengladbach’s players attend a training session ahead of their Champions League match against Manchester City. Reuters

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola moved quickly to quash talk of a historic quadruple on Monday — after one of his own players said they were capable of a clean sweep of trophies.

City face Borussia Moenchengladbach in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Budapest on Tuesday, well placed to progress after winning the first leg 2-0.

The match was switched from the Etihad Stadium to the Puskas Arena, which also hosted the first leg, due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

City look almost certain to win a third Premier League title in four seasons, face Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday and play Tottenham in the final of the League Cup in April.

Defender Oleksandr Zinchenko said at the eve-of-match press conference that he could see “hungry eyes” in the City squad as they chase all four trophies.

“Of course everything is possible,” said the Ukrainian. “We have an unbelievable squad, the best players in the world. Definitely, why not?

“Inside the dressing room or inside the team I can see hungry eyes. Everyone is so hungry for the titles. That’s what we want.”

This was immediately knocked down by Guardiola, who urged the left-back to focus on the job at hand when it was his turn to address the media.

“I am older than Mr Zinchenko,” said the City boss. “I have more experience and I am not agreeing with him.

“Zinchenko only has to be worried about a good game tomorrow and going through. This is the only way.”

“Four titles has never happened before and I don’t think it will happen this season with the situation,” he added.

“The only thing to think about is this game and then Everton. I don’t know what will happen at the end of the season but normally it does not happen.

“Right now (this City team) is worse than the previous ones because the other ones won a lot and this team hasn’t won anything.”

Guardiola confirmed Raheem Sterling will travel after being left out of the matchday squad for Saturday’s victory at Fulham.

The Catalan manager said he was rotating his players and that the England forward had not needed to tweet in response to internet rumours it had led to a disagreement between the pair.

“Some crazy rumours on socials today... That’s absolutely FALSE,” Sterling wrote.

Guardiola said in response: “He doesn’t need to do it. Nothing happened. He was not selected, that’s all.”

He added that Sterling had reacted well to his decision, as he would expect.

Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane admitted Real Madrid are struggling to explain Eden Hazard’s fitness problems after the club confirmed the Belgian is injured again ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game against Atalanta.

Hazard came off the bench against Elche in La Liga on Saturday to make his first appearance since January but Zidane said in a press conference on Monday the Belgian is out again, with what the club confirmed was a “muscle injury in the right pelvis”.

Zidane said there are “things I cannot explain” regarding Hazard’s fitness issues and when asked about the club’s long list of injuries, he pointed to various factors including “things up here in the head, which influences a lot”.

Hazard has played only 14 times this season for Real Madrid, continuing a nightmare period for the 30-year-old forward, who joined from Chelsea for 100 million euros in the summer of 2019.

“He is not going to be fit,” said Zidane. “There are things I cannot explain. Like always I try to stay positive and hope it will be a little thing. Something is happening. He is a player who was never injured in his career. We want to help him.”

Zidane grew frustrated with the number of questions about Hazard and dismissed suggestions of a problem with the club’s medical department, despite the number of Madrid injuries this season.

“I don’t think there is a problem, we have very competent people here, who are close to the players every day,” he said.

“We are trying to find out what is happening with the injured players, there are things that happen in football. We have spoken about the pre-season, about the number of games, and things up here in the head as well, which influences a lot.”

“Eden had not had much luck since he arrived here in Madrid,” added Karim Benzema. “It makes me a little sad for him.”


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