Guardiola

Pep Guardiola made clear after the Leicester game that he will be using Wednesday’s match to give some of his stars a rest.

“Against Sevilla we can recover,” the Manchester City manager said. “The players that don’t play much are going to play and the players that played against Leicester are going to play.”

Having done the hard work of confirming top spot in the Champions League with a game to spare, City have earned the right to let whoever they like put their feet up when Sevilla come to town. And, however much is down to prioritising the Premier League versus those painful memories of RB Leipzig last year when a strong team that had already topped the group gave themselves needless problems for the knockout stages, Guardiola is prepared to play an XI that is not his best.

It will still be full of talent of course so the manager would rankle at any suggestion of it being a weaker team, but it won’t be the XI he will want to line up on Saturday against Fulham. In considering who should feature against Sevilla, there are some obvious picks.

Stefan Ortega surely gets another call after being handed a surprise start against Dortmund last week. Ederson was back and in top form against Leicester with some outstanding saves, yet these sort of games have the No.2’s name written all over them.

Having been shackled against a defensively resolute Leicester, Julian Alvarez can be given another opportunity to show what he can do in the continued absence of Erling Haaland. Alvarez will be looking to take some momentum into the World Cup with Argentina and it will give all a confidence boost if he can score a few goals before heading off on international duty.

On the wings, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez are both still trying to show that they should be the other wide forward opposite Phil Foden for the big games. Mahrez endured another difficult evening in Dortmund with a missed penalty, while Grealish is yet to grab the game by the scruff of its neck and show he can be the difference.

In defence, this feels like a prime chance for Sergio Gomez to return. He only served a one-match ban for his red card against Copenhagen earlier in the month, so is available again and can give City some respite in the full-back options; however, Josh Wilson Esbrand and Rico Lewis will be wildcard options that Guardiola could turn to if the manager is still not convinced Gomez has served his punishment.

Guardiola’s plans in defence and in midfield will depend on what he is thinking about Fulham at the weekend, but he already has plenty of names for his Sevilla teamsheet before the decisions get difficult.

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