Pep Guardiola thanks Man City pair as they suffer injury setback in title chase with Liverpool

The Manchester City manager currently has just five fit defenders ahead of trips to Elland Road and the Bernabeu.

Pep Guardiola has thanked John Stones and Fernandinho for their contributions in Manchester City’s 4-3 Champions League win over Real Madrid.

The Premier League champions approached Tuesday’s semi-final first leg short of options in defence, with John Stones rushed back into the side as there was no obvious choice at right-back, with Kyle Walker injured and Joao Cancelo suspended for the game.

But Stones’s role in the contest was curtailed after he suffered a recurrence of the muscular injury he picked up last week in the 3-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.

John Stones was withdrawn after 36 minutes on Tuesday. Credit: Getty.

It means Fernandinho had to come on and play in an unnatural position of right-back when Stones was forced to come off after 36 minutes against Real. But Guardiola was grateful to both players for giving their all in one of the team’s biggest games of the season.

“I would just say thank you to both for the effort of doing it and Fernandinho [previously] played just one game at right-back,” the Catalan said post-match.

“It was not easy to control Vinicius because Vinicius is an outstanding player. But he did everything; that’s why Fernandinho is such an important player. I knew it, that he would perform well.”

It was a night of mixed emotions for Pep Guardiola. Credit: Getty.

It means City could be down to just five fit defenders for huge trips to Elland Road and the Bernabeu in the Premier League and Champions League over the next week, with Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Oleksandr Zinchenko his only first-team options at the back.

Guardiola ready for Bernabeu blockbuster

The 4-3 win on Tuesday means City and Guardiola will head to Madrid next week having to prevent a Real fightback at the Bernabeu.

Both managers spoke in the build-up to the game about how Los Blancos have an aura and stature in this competition, one which has helped them progress in the competition over previous years.

However, City will hope to come away with another positive result next week and secure their place in a second consecutive Champions League final.

“Regardless of the result, if it was 2-0 or 3-0 we would still have to go to Bernabeu and play well. If we play like we did in the second half, we won’t be able to win,” said Guardiola. “If we play like we did at other periods, we will.

“We want to be there to put on a good show, that is what I want to tell my players to do. Don’t think of anything else. You have to come through these situations to win the Champions League.”