Five things spotted in Man City training ahead of Atletico Madrid Champions League quarter-final first leg

Our reporter was at the Etihad Campus to watch Manchester City’s pre-match session.

Manchester City’s players were put through their paces on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League fixture with Atletico Madrid.

The Sky Blues host Diego Simeone’s men in the first leg of their quarter-final, after Atleti eliminated Manchester United in the previous round.

Ahead of the game, Pep Guardiola was full of praise for his opposite number, a few hours before leading City’s training at the Etihad Campus.

Champions League rules allow the media access to the beginning of pre-match sessions, and our City reporter went along to observe the training, and came away with five interesting observations.

Who was missing?

First and foremost, there were no unexpected absentees from the group who were involved in training.

Pep Guardiola was present for Monday’s training session. Credit: Getty.

John Stones missed last weekend’s win over Burnley as he continues to recover from a slight knock he suffered on international duty, but the defender seemed to be moving without any issues on Monday.

Ruben Dias and Cole Palmer were both absent, although the pair were not expected to be involved due to injury.

It was noteworthy that a few of the squad’s younger members didn’t participate, such as James McAtee and Liam Delap. However, City’s underage team have a game on Monday night, which could explain why they were not seen in training.

Youngster step up

While McAtee and Delap weren’t involved on Monday, several other younger players were. The most noteworthy of those was Adedire Mebude, who has mainly played with City’s Under-18 squad.

CJ Egan-Riley deputised at right-back in the last-16 second leg against Sporting Lisbon and there’s an outside chance he could be called into action again for the visit of Atletico, with City reduced to just five first-team defenders.

Morgan Rogers also was part of the group, as was Luke Mbete, who came off the bench in City’s last-16 draw with Sporting last month.

Carson deputises

There’s a myth surrounding City, that they have an unrivalled squad depth. In truth, Guardiola isn’t blessed with options like Jurgen Klopp or Thomas Tuchel and has been forced to rely on his youth-team squad on quite a few occasions this season.

The lack of depth was evident on Monday due to the younger players being involved in the session, while there was another unexpected participant in the rondos drill.

Goalkeeper Scott Carson took part with the outfield players for the keep-ball session, perhaps an indication of how light City are for numbers at present.

Manchester City’s ‘Mr Gucci’. Credit: Getty.

Grealish’s ‘glamorous’ reception

Jack Grealish was among the last to emerge into the cold, grey afternoon ahead of Monday’s training. But as the attacker walked onto the field, he was greeted by a joke shout of ‘Mr Gucci’ from Kyle Walker.

The defender is suspended for Tuesday’s game but was still training with the team ahead of the first leg.

Walker’s teasing was in reference to reports from The Athletic that Grealish has signed a major sponsorship contract with fashion label Gucci.

Cancelo was first out for Monday’s session. Credit: Getty.

Cancelo keen to get going

While Grealish was one of the last to stroll out, the opposite was true for Joao Cancelo. In fact, the Portugal international was the very first player out on the pitch.

He was so early that he entertained himself by completing a few keepy-ups with a member of City’s coaching staff before the training session.

Cancelo has been one of the Sky Blues’ standout players this season, and his early appearance could be interpreted as a sign of his eagerness and professionalism.