Pep Guardiola has revealed he did not bring Erling Haaland on during Manchester City’s 0-0 draw with Copenhagen on Tuesday night as the player ‘didn’t recover well’ in the days since last weekend’s win over Southampton.
The Blues dropped their first points in the Champions League this season with a goalless stalemate in Denmark, while City had to play for an hour with 10 men due to a red card shown to Sergio Gomez in the first half.
The young Spaniard pulled back Hakon Arnar Haraldsson as he went to sprint into the box and, after a VAR check at the pitchside monitor, City’s summer signing was dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
It certainly affected the team’s performance, with City not enjoying their usual level of dominance and failing to dictate the pace and tempo of the game. Guardiola also opted to start with Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Haaland on the bench and didn’t introduce the latter even with City in need of a goal.
But speaking after the game, the Catalan manager revealed he opted against bringing Haaland on as the striker felt fatigued the build-up to Tuesday’s match. “He finished the game against Southampton so so tired and he didn't recover well these [last] two or three days. Yesterday was not good, today was a little bit better but not perfect and that’s why we decided not to take the risk,” Guardiola said.
“Many players didn't start today because they were really exhausted and tired and fatigued, and [had] niggles,” the City boss added. “Erling didn't feel really good after the game against Southampton, Phil also had some disturbing problems, Bernardo told us yesterday he was so tired. I didn’t want to take a risk.”
The news comes ahead of Sunday’s game against Liverpool on Sunday. While Jurgen Klopp’s men are not likely to be involved in the title race this season, it still represents a huge clash for the Premier League champions, who are yet to lose a league game in 2022/23.
Guardiola also has other injury concerns with Kyle Walker, John Stones and Kalvin Phillips not expected to be back in time for the trip to Anfield.