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Sky Blue News: World Cup Return, Pep Presser, Liverpool Preview, and More...

Matchday headlines from Bitter and Blue.

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Manchester City Training Session Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Matchday is finally here. Manchester City are set to face off with rivals Liverpool at the Etihad. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get you ready.


Julian Alvarez returned to Buenos Aires to join in the celebrations after Argentina’s success and is set for a short period of rest before returning to the CFA.

But for some of his team-mates, the tournament ended in disappointment, though Guardiola says they are mentally strong enough to put it behind them quickly.

“My first feeling is they will be okay,” the City boss said in his pre-match news conference. “What I heard was that the World Cup was perfect because they felt the pressure. but not too much.

“It was not like playing in England or Italy, Qatar was more calm they told me and they were more relaxed. That’s why I think they will be okay.

Pep Guardiola confirms when Julian Alvarez will return to Man City - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News

Alvarez started five games as Argentina won the World Cup, including the final, and he scored four goals to end joint-third top scorer in the Qatar 2022 tournament. After playing a key role for his country, Alvarez is now enjoying the celebrations back in Buenos Aires, where millions have lined the streets to welcome Argentina back as world champions.

“We are incredibly happy for him, congratulations to him and [Nicolas] Otamendi, and personally to Messi.” Guardiola said. “To Argentina as a country, well deserved world champions. We’re delighted for Julian, he played a lot, his contribution was amazing for the team and the way they played.

“We have a world champion in our team. He’ll have a week, ten days off. He played many games, lots of tension. He’ll have a break, maybe until the days before the new year.”

Keeping Haaland fit, getting more from Grealish & finding role for Phillips: The six questions Manchester City must answer after the World Cup break - Matt O’Connor-Simpson - Goal

Manchester City’s mid-season report card reads: good, but could do better. Erling Haaland has laughed off any doubts that he’d be able to adapt to the Premier League since arriving in England, and Pep Guardiola’s side have produced some scintillating football at times.

Despite that, not everything has been rosy. Defeats to an out-of-form Liverpool and lowly Brentford have proved that they are far from invincible, while several big-money signings are yet to fulfil their potential.

That said, they are safely through to the last 16 of the Champions League and have a favourable draw against RB Leipzig to come early in 2023 as they finally aim to end their wait for European silverware.

So, as City prepare to make their return to action following the mid-season break for the World Cup, here are the key questions they need to answer over the coming months...

Pep Talk: “I do not have enough words to express my gratitude to this Club...” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Pep spoke on the WC winners, good games and form. Let’s dive right in:

On WC Winners

“We are incredibly happy for him (Alvarez). Congrats to him, Otamendi, Messi, and for Argentina. A well-deserved champion. Julian is with us and we are delighted... We have a world champion in our team!”

On new contract

“Thank you so much for the confidence they have in me. It will be difficult to repay the confidence they have in me... I do not have enough words to express my gratitude to this Club and how they want me here.”

On form

“The players at the World Cup are in better condition than the ones that were here. Sergio/Erling/Riyad/Cole they are missing a little bit. They competed every day and we had holidays. That’s why it’s so important to maintain the rhythm.”

Pep Guardiola gives Man City team news vs Liverpool - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News

Pep Guardiola believes the players returning from the World Cup are in better condition than the few first-team stars who didn’t go to Qatar.

City play their first game in 41 days on Thursday when they face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup fourth round and Guardiola will have some of his World Cup stars back in contention.

Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji returned to training earlier this week and the players who represented England and Portugal are also due back before the fixture against Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview - Dillon Meehan - City Report

t is not going to be an easy selection this time for Pep Guardiola. Earlier this week the Spaniard admitted to only having four or five first team players available due to the defending champions sending 16 first team players to the World Cup. While Guardiola has received some reinforcements since, Manchester City will be at a severe disadvantage for the next few games.

This was apparent in the friendly against Girona early this week, which saw Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez start alongsise a group of youth and reserve players.

It appears as though Nathan Ake, Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte and Rodri have returned this week. Normally players returning late causes fears around fitness and form, but Guardiola believes this players will benefit from returning from the tournament.

“The players at the World Cup are in better condition than the ones that were here. Sergio [Gomez], Erling [Haaland], Riyad [Mahrez], Cole [Palmer] are missing a little bit. They competed every day and we had holidays. That’s why it’s so important to maintain the rhythm.”

And finally... Pep has a brand new contract but keeps the same focus on the ultimate prize.

Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss needs Champions League win to complete time at club - Simon Stone - BBC Sport

Guardiola extended his contract with City to 2025 while the Premier League season was breaking for the World Cup.

City have won nine major trophies since he became coach in 2016 but they are yet to win any European silverware.

They came closest to winning the Champions League in 2021, but were beaten by Chelsea in the final.

Aside from the final defeat in Portugal, they were beaten by Real Madrid in last season’s semi-final, have exited at the quarter-final stage three times and started Guardiola’s tenure with a last-16 defeat by Monaco.

“It’s not the only one but I admit it’s the trophy we want and my period here will not be complete if we don’t win it,” said Guardiola.

“I will do everything in the time we have together but I’d say the same before. It’s the trophy we don’t have and we’ll try to do it. I have the feeling they’ll get it sooner or later.”

There you have it Cityzens. Stay with us at Bitter and Blue throughout the day as we get you ready for the match against Liverpool. You can follow along on Twitter at @BitterandBlue1. Come on City!!!!!!