'They destroyed us!' - Pep had LIVERPOOL on his mind in FA Cup fixture rant

Pep Guardiola hit out at his Manchester City side’s gruelling fixture schedule following their FA Cup semi-final win against Chelsea on Saturday. 

The defending FA Cup holders went into the Saturday tea-time clash against the Blues having dropped out of the Champions League on Wednesday night at the quarter-final stage. 

City lost to Real Madrid at home on penalty kicks, ending their hopes for consecutive trebles, meaning any potential glory is now confined to the domestic prizes for this campaign. 

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Arsenal moved ahead of City at the top of the Premier League on Saturday night, having beaten Wolves, but the Manchester side do have a game in hand. 

Guardiola’s men will face an FA Cup final against either Manchester United or Coventry, with no let up in the fixtures for his team. 

Guardiola says fixture list scheduling is ‘unacceptable’

After the game he described the run of games as “unacceptable”, saying playing so often and in such a short space of time was detrimental to the health of his players. 

"It's unacceptable," he told the BBC. "It's really unacceptable. Coventry, United and Chelsea don't play in the week, [but] they let us play today. 

"It's impossible, for the health of the players! Honestly, it's not normal. We didn't have the courage to tell you, to FIFA. We shut up, but it's not possible. It's unacceptable - 120 minutes. 

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“All of you are football players. The emotion against Madrid, the quarter-final, we lose and everything. So honestly, I know this country, it is special for many things but it is for the health of the players. I don't understand how we survived today."

Guardiola opts against major changes

City made only FOUR changes from the side which lost to Real on Wednesday night, with Erling Haaland one of the players to miss out, proving to be unavailable due to fatigue, and regular cup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega also coming into the side. 

And it appeared that the Spaniard had a certain game against Liverpool in mind when he decided against wholesale changes. 

Back in April 2022, Man City faced a stern examination against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals over two legs. They escaped the Etihad in the first leg with a slender one-goal lead and went to the Wanda Metropolitano for a high-stakes encounter. 

The English side suffered through 90 brutal, goalless minutes to take their place in the semi-finals, where they were again dumped out by Real. 

Following the Atletico second leg however, which took place on a Wednesday, City faced the exact same situation as occurred this weekend. 

They had an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool with Guardiola opting to ring the changes for the game. 

He kept only four players in the line-up from the Atletico tie with Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva retaining their places. 

City collapsed to a THREE GOAL half-time deficit with goalkeeper Zack Steffen particularly culpable on one of Sadio Mane’s two goals. Ibrahima Konate netted the other.

Although City rallied in the second half, reducing the arrears to 2-3, they were unable to turn the Reds over, who ultimately went on to lift the cup, beating Chelsea on penalties in the final.

‘Liverpool destroyed us’ - Guardiola on FA Cup semi

Guardiola mentioned that game in his post-match interview, implying that lessons had been learned and it was not ideal to change so many players for such vital fixtures. The trade-off, however, is dealing with fatigue. 

“I thought a lot,” Pep said about his team selection. “I remember two or three years ago, it happened the same. We play in Dortmund [sic, they played Dortmund in 2021] on the Wednesday, we travel and we play on Saturday against Liverpool, made a lot of changes, 3-0 at half-time. 

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“They destroyed us. So I changed a lot, I thought a lot about changing these players.”

Bernardo Silva scored the only goal of the game late on at Wembley, with City still hoping for a domestic double.

Liverpool will be hoping to stand in their way for the Premier League title at least, starting with three points against Fulham today

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