Pep Guardiola has explained why he left Kevin De Bruyne out of the starting line-up as Manchester City flopped to a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
City were beaten thanks to a Son Heung-Min goal in the second half after Sergio Aguero had seen an early penalty saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
Guardiola’s starting XI was something of a surprise, with Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of midfield, with Riyad Mahrez, David Silva and Raheem Sterling ahead of them. The Spaniard says that there was no injury or fitness issue for De Bruyne, it was a tactical decision to leave him out.
‘I decide to play with two holding midfielders,’ Guardiola said after his side’s loss. ‘[Fitness] It’s not the issue. I know it’s tough for him.
‘We have the second leg, we spoke about that. We have 180 minutes, we played to score but we couldn’t. It looks complicated but we will try.’
Tottenham now hold the advantage going into the second leg in Manchester next Wednesday, although their victory was marred by an injury to Harry Kane.
The England captain was forced off in the second half with an ankle injury after he challenged Fabian Delph on the touchline.
Kane has struggled with ankle injuries over the last three seasons and it appears to be another example of the same issue, which his manager, Mauricio Pochettino, said ‘does not look good.’
‘We have to check in the next few days,’ said the Spurs boss.
‘It’s so painful but what can we do now? It’s impossible [to change anything] we have to look forward and hope it’s not a big issue.
‘We hope he can recover as soon as possible but it does not look good.