Sanchez, Matic named in Manchester United squad for Barcelona clash

By Sports Desk April 15, 2019

Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic have been named in Manchester United's squad for the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Barcelona on Tuesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side travel to Camp Nou looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the opening encounter at Old Trafford last week.

Former Barca forward Sanchez has not played since injuring his knee against Southampton on March 2, while Matic's last outing was in a Premier League game against Watford on March 30.

Matteo Darmian could make his first appearance since January, having been included in Solskjaer's 22-man group.

Luke Shaw – whose own goal settled the first leg in Barca's favour – was also named despite the fact he is suspended after picking up a yellow card against LaLiga's reigning champions last week.

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    Manchester City must learn to manage Kevin De Bruyne's fitness ahead of next season, according to Pep Guardiola, who has ruled the midfielder out of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United.

    De Bruyne went off with a knee injury against Tottenham on Saturday, and will miss the game at Old Trafford, though Guardiola is hopeful the playmaker will still be able to feature before the season is out.

    The injury is the latest in a string of set-backs for the 27-year-old, who has been restricted to 30 appearances in all competitions for City this term, making just 11 Premier League starts.

    And manager Guardiola confirmed that City will reassess how they treat De Bruyne moving forward, in order to ensure he avoids a repeat of his injury hit campaign next season.

    "It is a muscular problem, and we will see in the next days how it is," Guardiola told a news conference. "It's getting better but he is not available [for Wednesday].

    "Unfortunately it was one injury and then another one and another one. Before in the past he was safe, especially from muscular problems, but now he has had two or three as a consequence of his knee.

    "But with all the competitions we have in England, we don't have time to make preparation when they come back from injury. That is not the best way.

    "Now we have to pay more attention in the little details, see if he can play one, two more games before the end of the season, then next season have a good pre-season and take care of himself.

    "He has a lovely family, his life is organised in training, rest, prepare for the next game. We are going to speak with the doctors, everybody, to make the problem go and for him to be safe and fit. That's what we are trying to do from now on."

    De Bruyne's absence has been felt by City over the course of the season, as the Premier League title race with Liverpool promises to run to the wire.

    Victory at Old Trafford would see City move back above their rivals with three games to play, and Guardiola did not downplay the magnitude of Wednesday's fixture.

    "Four games left, we have to win all four games to keep the title," he said.

    "It is not an easy place to go, but at the same time a nice place to go. We know exactly what we need to do, they are fighting for top four and we are fighting for the title. We will go there to play a good game."

  • I perfectly understand his position – Guardiola supports under-fire Solskjaer I perfectly understand his position – Guardiola supports under-fire Solskjaer

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    Solskjaer was brought in initially as an interim replacement for Jose Mourinho in December and enjoyed a stunning impact as they lost just one of his first 17 matches at the helm and reached the Champions League quarter-finals against the odds.

    Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Wolves did not put United off from hiring him full-time at the end of March, but a subsequent run of two wins and four defeats has prompted many to question the club's decision to hand Solskjaer a contract through to 2022.

    Their most recent defeat was undoubtedly the nadir, as United were humiliated 4-0 away to Everton on Sunday, severely denting their top-four hopes.

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    When asked in his pre-match news conference if he felt it was right for Solskjaer to be questioned, Guardiola said: "I don't know. We [managers] don't have time.

    "I understand his position perfectly. We are alone, I am alone and that's why I understand completely his position.

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    At the time of Solskjaer's interim appointment and subsequent full-time hiring, much was made of his close connection to the club, having spent the majority of his playing career at Old Trafford as well as his early coaching days.

    Guardiola – who managed Barcelona after playing for them – agrees that such a background can be beneficial.

    "To know the club is better," he said. "I know this club now more in my third season than I did in my first season.

    "He came back here after being a formidable player. He knows everything [about the club], so it's an advantage, of course."

    Despite United's recent woes, Guardiola is expecting them to be at their very best in the derby, and while he believes pride to be at stake for Solskjaer's men, he downplayed the influence of their Everton loss on the game.

    Asked if United will be eager for a response, Guardiola said: "A little bit more, maybe, but if they won [against Everton] the confidence would be a little bit more, and it is a derby.

    "All the derbies here or in Germany or Spain are always special games and the players do their best for the fans and the team.

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    The Gunners suffered their first Premier League defeat at Emirates Stadium since August when they went down 3-2 to Palace as Emery's side missed the chance to move up to third.

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    Arsenal are just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea, with a game in hand at Wolves to come on Wednesday, and Emery is keen to ensure his squad's belief does not waver.

    Speaking at a news conference about the Palace result, he said: "We made mistakes that we usually don't make at home.

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    The Gunners' midfield options are already depleted with Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Denis Suarez (groin) sidelined.

    "I am not telling you what our idea is with the players, with the system, with the injured players or the first XI," Emery added.

    "I want to keep all information to myself for tomorrow. Sorry, I think it's better for us."

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