Pep Guardiola hints at starter v Copenhagen & sends Champions League warning to Man City rivals

Manchester City return to European action with a visit to Denmark on Tuesday.
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Pep Guardiola has said he could rotate his side for Tuesday’s game against Copenhagen, and hand minutes to Manuel Akanji.

The Manchester City defender recently returned from injury and started in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton. He was replaced in the 57th minute and, with so many games upcoming, Guardiola implied he could use the clash in Denmark as an opportunity for Akanji to build on his fitness.

City face a run of six games in 19 days and with the Blues returning to Champions League and European action, Guardiola was asked if he is planning to rotate his squad.

“That is important,” he replied. “A few players don’t play, maybe we rotate on Tuesday, I don’t know. Minutes for Manu. Manu suffered the lack of rhythm and John [Stones] a bit, second half [against Everton] felt better.

“The best moment for Manu Akanji, I thought at half-time he could continue, it was much better. When they move inside, last season was incredible, this season is not so fluid. Why? Because they were injured and they lack the rhythm that you need. There are many things you need.”

Guardiola was effusive in his praise of the City players after the win over Everton and said he was delighted with their body language in the 2-0 victory. Ahead of the return of Champions League, the three-time winning coach warned Europe's top sides that his team ‘still want it’.

“How they run, how they train every day, how they compete, still it’s there,” said Guardiola.“We won all the [group] games in the Champions League and now we are there.

“The team had the feeling, they still want it. As much they want it, it will be a problem for the opponents, that’s for sure.”

Asked about Copenhagen, Guardiola added: “They had a group against Bayern Munich, United, Galatasaray, one of the toughest groups and they went through. We played two years ago and could not win there.”