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Manchester City Through, But at a Cost

Blues Pair Face FA Cup Fitness Race

Atletico Madrid v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Manchester City survived a brutal visit to Atletico Madrid to progress to the semi-final of the Champions League for the second successive season. However, Kyle Walker and Kevin de Bruyne face a fitness race for the blues FA Cup clash against Liverpool on Saturday.

De Bruyne, who scored the only goal of the tie, was replaced in the 65th minute by Raheem Sterling, while Nathan Ake came on for Walker on 73 minutes, and manager Pep Guardiola says City are in ‘big trouble’ ahead of the Wembley clash, but didn’t reveal the extent of their injuries.

Speaking after the match, Guardiola said “Today we celebrate because it is the third time in Manchester City’s history we are in the Champions League semi-finals. But we can’t forget we played three days ago, travelled, came here, have a lot of injuries now and I don’t know what will happen in the next weeks.

“We cannot play all the time and score four or five goals, we are human beings - we come from a difficult game against Liverpool. We are in big trouble.”

The blues drew 2-2 at home to Liverpool and face the same opposition at Wembley, having already come through an encounter at Etihad Stadium with Atletico, with the blues securing a precious 1-0 advantage.

City survived a bruising return leg in Madrid, where Felipe was sent off in the closing minutes of normal time for a late challenge on Phil Foden. The Atletico defender was already on a yellow after an earlier foul on the same player resulted in Foden needing a Pablo Zabaleta style bandage around his head for most of the match.

Ugly scenes then ensued as Stevan Savic tried to drag Foden from the pitch, and a melee ensued with Savic in the middle of it. The former City man appeared to headbutt Raheem Sterling before pulling the hair of Jack Grealish. The £100m man did appear to provoke Savic as Grealish appeared to liken him to a rather intimate female body part!

There were also unsavoury scenes in the tunnel as a bottle of water appeared to be thrown in the direction of Guardiola and someone wanting to take on the whole team.

After the match, Guardiola said he had ‘nothing to say’ about the actions of the home side on the tunnel or on the pitch, which has been interpreted by one Spanish website as he had no comment on the time wasting tactics they allege City employed!

It was a sour end to what could have been a great game of football. The home side put the blues under pressure and City stood up to the challenge, with John Stones and Ake outstanding. Ilkay Gundogan hit the post in the first half for City as the blues claimed a draw which is enough to see them through and face a trip to the other side of Madrid and a clash with Real.

The first leg takes place at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday 26th April, with the return leg in Madrid on 4th May. The winners will face either Villareal or Liverpool in the final.