Pep Guardiola has revealed the Manchester City staff administered 71 different “treatments” to players between last Wednesday’s game at Atletico Madrid and the FA Cup semi-final loss to Liverpool.
City were beaten 3-2 by the Reds at Wembley on Saturday, a result which ended their hopes of winning a treble this season.
The game came at the end of a gruelling fortnight which saw City play two full-blooded contests against Atletico as well as another clash – a high-octane 2-2 draw – with title rivals Liverpool in the Premier League.
The second of those Atletico encounters, a hard-fought goalless draw at the Wanda Metropolitano which saw City reach the Champions League semi-finals 1-0 on aggregate, was a particularly intense and fractious affair.
Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gunodgan all suffered knocks and did not feature at the weekend and Guardiola said there were several others feeling the strain of the heavy schedule.
Guardiola said: “Our physios made 71 treatments in the space between Atletico Madrid and the semi-final against Liverpool.
“The full figure is 71, it’s true. The doctor came to me. It’s not from one game, it’s from the past (three).
“It was not just one or two, it was a lot of players. That’s what they told me. I didn’t ask them what it is normally, what is the average, but I am sure it is less.
“We didn’t have time to train, we didn’t have time to prepare a proper semi-final against Liverpool.
“We had six massage tables on the pitch watching the guys who didn’t play in Madrid doing the training session.
“Before Liverpool and Atletico it was so demanding mentally and physically. It is fatigue but it is normal and the schedule is what it is. The players gave everything.”
Guardiola made seven changes for semi-final against Liverpool, most notably bringing in Zack Steffen in goal in place of regular first choice Ederson.
The American was guilty of an horrendous error for Liverpool’s second goal in their 3-2 win, miscontrolling close to his line and allowing Sadio Mane to score.
Guardiola has defended his selection.
He said: “I’m pretty sure he slept bad. I didn’t speak with him but I’m pretty sure he didn’t feel comfortable.
“But I prefer that than the day after the game you go out to take a drink outside. I prefer you sleep bad and worry for the team.
“In the FA Cup I’ve always played the second keeper because he deserves to play. We were there because Zack made incredible saves against Southampton.
“It was an accident, it happens. Am I going to blame Zack? Come on.”