Eden Hazard and Rodrygo will start for Real Madrid against Manchester City in the Champions League last-16 second leg.

Belgium star Hazard had been battling to be fit after suffering discomfort in the ankle he injured in February, but head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed this week the player was feeling better.

He joins Rodrygo, preferred to Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior, alongside Karim Benzema in attack, while Eder Militao starts as expected in place of the suspended Sergio Ramos.

City boss Pep Guardiola has dropped Eric Garcia to the bench after announcing on Thursday that the teenage defender – heavily linked with a return to boyhood club Barcelona – would not sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.

Veteran campaigner Fernandinho will partner Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, with Phil Foden handed a start as David Silva begins his final game as a City player in Manchester among the substitutes.

Gabriel Jesus, who played much of the first leg on the left flank before heading in City's equaliser, starts up front in Sergio Aguero's ongoing absence through a knee injury, while Guardiola again appears to have opted for a double pivot in midfield of Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, who both started at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Portugal international Joao Cancelo is preferred to Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Benjamin Mendy suspended.

City lead 2-1 from that first leg.

Jurgen Klopp and Andy Robertson have discussed their experiences of mental health challenges - revealing anguish over loved relatives not living to witness their greatest achievements.

Liverpool manager Klopp and his star left-back have taken part in the #SoundOfSupport series for the Heads Up campaign, which Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is spearheading.

Scotland international Robertson, now a Champions League and Premier League winner with the Reds, recalled the difficulties he encountered as a teenager being released by Celtic and the struggle of losing his aunt, a prominent supporter of his when growing up.

Speaking of his Celtic exit, Robertson said: "I was a normal 15-year-old lad so there were probably a few tears but my mum and dad got me my favourite curry that night.

"My auntie came up to the house and she told Mum: 'I'm telling you, he'll make it as a footballer.' And that's something that's always stayed with me.

"When I was at Dundee United, on Christmas Day, sadly she passed away. She was one that always believed I was something special even when probably nobody believed it when I was younger.

"But that is something that does bug me a little bit, that she's not seen me lifting the Champions League, lifting the Premier League and things like that."

That prompted Klopp to recall a similar experience when he lost his father shortly before becoming a manager.

"My dad never saw me as a manager. He died four months before I became a manager," the former Borussia Dortmund boss said.

"He pushed me through my [playing] career pretty much, with really harsh criticism and stuff like this, but now my real career, he never saw. That's hard from time to time."

The series is attempting to use the reach of football to get people to open up about their mental health, an issue particularly prominent over the past few months with the coronavirus pandemic consigning people to spend large periods of time at their homes.

"Uncertain I think, for all of us," Robertson said when asked about how he coped with lockdown.

"We have parents that are older, we have family that are in the so-called bracket of high risk. 

"I think football kind of took a step to one side, but we were all wanting the season to end."

Klopp replied: "There were moments in the lockdown when we thought it is a proper setback from all of our dreams.

"So it was a setback but it was a setback for all of us together, and we could calm each other down.

"[It] helps if you don't feel all the burden on your own shoulders. If you have a group of friends or a group of colleagues and you can create an atmosphere like this, that helps.

"I think there is no problem big enough or small enough that you cannot talk about it."

Robertson spoke about how his own experiences were exacerbated once he made it in the game.

"When I started making it professional that's when I struggled the most," he said.

"I was down in Hull on my own and people thought 'okay, he's a Premier League footballer, he's playing for Hull, he's getting a good wage' so then people would stop asking 'how are you?'. I used to be one who blocked everything up and thought 'my problems are my problems'.

"Now I feel so much better. I remember speaking to [my partner] Rach a year ago about something daft, something that was playing on my mind and after a 10-minute conversation with her I felt everything was off [my shoulders] and thought, 'yeah, I should do this a bit more often'."

Manchester City duo Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden, and Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, appeared in separate videos for the campaign.

Germany international Gundogan spoke about the feeling of isolation during lockdown away from his family.

"For me growing up, the most important thing was always family. They were kind of like the psychologists for myself. [Now] I am in a different country, I don't know many people apart from the people from the club," he said.

"I have one friend over here who I saw during lockdown. The fact that I have spent a lot of time on my own and without family and friends during lockdown just showed me how important it is to have your loved ones close to you."

Lingard, who appeared alongside TV and radio presenter Maya Jama, revealed family issues had affected his performances on the pitch.

"Last season, I was going through some things off the field with my family so it was difficult for me to perform on the field," Lingard said.

"I'm very family orientated and my mum was going through some things last year with depression. So, in the meantime, I had to look after my little brother and sister who are 12 and 15. I was still performing at the same time.

"You just get to that point where you're like, I've got to actually say something. I spoke to my family and stuff like that. It felt so much better."

Pep Guardiola was relieved to see the hunger back in his Manchester City team as they won 4-0 at Watford in the Premier League. 

Losing on Saturday to Arsenal in their FA Cup semi-final came as a major blow to City, with Guardiola unhappy with the performance, particularly the first-half showing at Wembley. 

After that game, Guardiola said it was "the way we lost" that hurt him more than the result, questioning the appetite among his players for the battle. 

He was more satisfied with the display at Watford, though, as two goals from Raheem Sterling were followed by Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte getting on the scoresheet. 

Guardiola told BBC Radio Five Live: "The minimum, we did it today." 

The City manager explained what he demands of his players, saying: "We can win and we can lose. In your career as a football player, you lose more games than you win, but also always you have to finish a game and go into a locker room and say, 'I did everything to win the game. I'm exhausted and I did everything to win the game'.

"And when this doesn't happen, we cannot be proud of ourselves."

Guardiola stressed even Sterling, after another outstanding season individually, would not be finishing the league campaign with a great sense of accomplishment. 

"He's quality. The personal achievements have always related to how we have done in the Premier League and we've finished second, far away from the champions," Guardiola said. "So that's why not even Raheem must be happy with the season we have done in the Premier League." 

Guardiola also said the Professional Footballers' Association's player of the year award must go to a Liverpool star this season, ruling out City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne as a serious contender for the honour. 

Foden, who stroked home City's third goal at Watford from close range, said: "We weren't like ourselves against Arsenal. I don't think the energy was there from minute one and we were disappointed and we wanted to be back on track today. 

"I think we did that well. You could see we were pressing from the front and back to our normal selves. 

"I feel good at the moment. I'm performing quite well. I just want to keep going and improving. 

"There's still a far way to go for me to be a regular starter. I'm going to try and take it into the rest of this year and keep going from there."

Manchester City's Phil Foden, not Harry Kane, is the best young player Kyle Walker has ever seen.

Foden, 20, is a product of City's academy and has been tipped to be the long-term successor to David Silva in midfield.

A technically gifted playmaker, Foden has made 20 Premier League appearances this season, already seven more than the 13 he made in 2018-19, while three of his six starts have come since football resumed last month after the coronavirus hiatus.

With Silva set to depart at the end of the season, Foden looks poised to take on a more integral role next term, and former Tottenham star Walker is excited to see what the England Under-21 international goes on to achieve.

"The sky is the limit [for Foden]," Walker said. "He is the best youngster I have ever seen.

"That is after playing at Tottenham with the likes of Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Steven Caulker, Harry Winks, who are very, very good players.

"Phil is leaps ahead of them for me, just because his knowledge of the game. I don't know if it is because he is constantly watching David Silva and learning from him, or just his knowledge of the game.

"I think if he just improves on his final ball on assisting and his final decision-making on that, I think that comes with experience. As a player and as a human being, he is top class and I wish him all the best in everything that he does because he deserves it all."

Walker was similarly glowing of Raheem Sterling, applauding his England colleague's work-rate.

The former Liverpool attacker netted a hat-trick in the 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, taking him to within one goal of his personal best for a single Premier League season of 18.

"Raz [Sterling] has proved a lot of people wrong," Walker added. "Since I have been training with him he has worked hard, devoted himself to the game and on wanting to become a better player, I think he is getting the rewards now.

"To score lucky goals like he did at the weekend is being in the right place at the right time, and before that would have probably hit his head and gone wide and now it is in the back of the net.

"I think that is a reward for the hard work he has been putting in on a weekly basis in the training sessions."

A couple of days on, Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton – their ninth loss of a limp and unsuccessful Premier League title defence – still appeared to be irritating Pep Guardiola.

How had it happened again? Such wastefulness.

Guardiola warned his players their FA Cup and Champions League hopes will go up in smoke if they remain so profligate, with his suggested remedy sounding more like exasperation than a practical solution.

"The only solution when you create 26 chances [and don't win] is to do 35," he said, recalling the precise number of attempts City had without scoring on England's south coast last weekend.

"And if 35 is not enough, 40. And if 40 is not enough, 45."

The City manager stopped before his chances to minutes ratio ran away from him entirely, but his team do create a phenomenal amount of opportunities.

In a Premier League table compiled using results from each game returned by Opta's Expected Goals (xG) metric, City would be top and not a mammoth 23 points in arrears.

Put simply, if fairly absurdly, the division's top scorers have a goalscoring problem.

NO SALVATION FOR JESUS

Sergio Aguero's knee-injury absence means Gabriel Jesus is City's only fit senior striker. This is certainly not the best time for the Brazil international to be enduring a nine-match goal drought.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's home game against Newcastle United, Guardiola made a point of praising Jesus' performance at Southampton, but his numbers make for grim reading.

Of the five opportunities Opta classified as big chances to pass the visitors by at St Mary's, Jesus spurned three of them. His xG figure for that barren showing was 1.36.

In 29 Premier League appearances, the 23-year-old has scored 10 times in 2019-20. This is a significant under-performance of his 14.7 xG.

Jesus' big-chance conversion rate is 25 per cent. No City player has enjoyed more than his 28 opportunities of that sort, yet just seven have ended up in the net.

However, as noted above, this is a team-wide problem for which Jesus is currently – albeit somewhat understandably – the main scapegoat.

THREE AND NOT SO EASY

As of Monday, there had been 24 occasions this Premier League season when a team registered an xG in excess of three during a single match.

City have done so six times, more than any other club. However, their xG of 3.25 against Southampton means they are also the only team to have lost when racking up such a dominant statistic.

Burnley's 3.15 xG only amounted to a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham, but in the other 22 instances, the team creating such a high volume of quality chances prevailed.

City also had an xG of exactly three during their 2-2 draw at home to Spurs last August - an outcome Guardiola still frequently references when assessing where the campaign went awry.

AGUERO LEADS THE WAY

City's all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero turned 32 last month and is out of contract at the end of next season.

The team's recent struggles arguably give an uncomfortable insight into the not-too-distant future. None of Guardiola's other main forward options are as reliably clinical or prolific.

Aguero' 16 Premier League goals this season arrived at a frequency of one every 91 minutes. In contrast to Jesus, he out-performed his xG of 14.6. The Argentina international converted 13 of 25 big chances (52 per cent).

Raheem Sterling was on target during the recent comprehensive wins over Arsenal and Liverpool, but his haul of 13 dips below an xG mark of 14.8, in part due to 10 of 26 big chances being finished off (38 per cent).

MAHREZ AND FODEN OFFER HOPE

Elsewhere, Opta's numbers show not all City players should despair when confronted with a sight of goal.

Riyad Mahrez has an xG projection of six Premier League goals this term, but is up to nine in reality.  The former Leicester City winger isn't entirely immune to the jitters, however, with four of his six big chances missed.

Perhaps the situation calls for bold belief of a special young talent.

Phil Foden's provides a smaller sample size in terms of minutes played, yet the England Under-21 star has four goals despite an xG figure of 1.3.

All of those goals – a brace against Burnley in between strikes versus Arsenal and Liverpool – have come since lockdown and Foden is two from two when it comes to big chances.

If it was a night that carried the now familiar whiff of fireworks for Liverpool, it was one that reeked of total humiliation for Manchester City.

Even after dazzling showings from their goalscorers Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden in an irresistible 4-0 win, the gap is 20 points. The analysis of where a Premier League title defence helmed by the most celebrated coach of a generation went so far awry should be unsparing.

But, as Pep Guardiola has pointed out frequently since the Premier League title was ceded to Merseyside, City still have plenty to play for this season. The EFL Cup can still be joined in the trophy cabinet by the FA Cup and the Champions League.

They started tentatively – their trademark passing from the back dangerously pedestrian against the most ravenous press in world football, even allowing for the prospect of a week's liquid refreshment drawing some of its bite.

Ederson made a double save from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino before the former skipped inside Eric Garcia to hit the post.

At that point, Guardiola's mind might have flashed back to a match that was both stinging for him as a proud Catalan and hugely significant in his own career.

After Barcelona surrendered LaLiga to Real Madrid in 2007-08, Frank Rijkaard's side performed a guard of honour for their bitter rivals – albeit at a braying Santiago Bernabeu as opposed to a deserted Etihad Stadium – and were soundly beaten 4-1.

It was an abject embarrassment that rubber-stamped the end of Rijkaard's tenure and Guardiola's elevation from the B team.

His rise has continued more or less unchecked ever since, except for encounters with Jurgen Klopp teams.

A win here does little to remove the stains of an inadequate title defence, but another league loss to follow the error-strewn reverse at Chelsea that gift-wrapped the trophy Liverpool craved beyond all others could have done significant damage.

A creaky defence, all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero crocked, Leroy Sane in Munich never to return. As Salah led blue shirts a merry dance during the opening exchanges, it was easy to see more Mancunian misery unfolding.

But De Bruyne was having absolutely none of that. The Premier League's outstanding player was about to take apart the Premier League's outstanding team.

Even as his team-mates struggled to find their footing early on, two glorious passes released Gabriel Jesus, only for the Brazil forward to mistime his runs.

Guardiola's heart will have been in his mouth when his midfield talisman trod on the ball and landed in a twisted heap for a rare unsuccessful assault on the Liverpool backline.

Hopes of FA Cup and Champions League glory can be launched into the sky with whatever assortment of corner shop explosives you like if City don't have De Bruyne fully fit.

It feels like a trick of the mind that the Belgium playmaker was confined to the margins by two medial knee ligament injuries last term, as City edged Liverpool in that titanic title tussle. He is the heart and soul of a team that has shown too little of those qualities as a collective at times in 2019-20.

The supporting cast sparkled here, though, with Sterling enjoying an overdue night of revelry against his former employers.

According to most versions of events, Joe Gomez handled a rampaging Sterling far more effectively in the St George's Park canteen last November than he did here.

The Liverpool centre-back grappled to foul his international team-mate and De Bruyne slotted the opener from the penalty spot. Gomez could not stop Sterling doubling the advantage and was substituted at half-time.

By that point, De Bruyne had pinged a one-two into the path of Foden for an ebullient finish. There was no let-up early in the second period – Jesus drove at the Liverpool defence and shot too close to Alisson, Sterling saw an effort deflected wide after a run of his own and Virgil van Dijk intervened in the goalmouth to deny Foden.

There was undoubted catharsis in all of this for City, as De Bruyne worked through his full repertoire. Another pass of geometric precision had the insatiable Sterling looking for number four, which arrived as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine scoring run in this fixture in the wrong net.

A headed attempt by De Bruyne to make it five was more Ballon p'Or than Ballon d'Or, but his unrelenting brilliance was the source of relief and pride for City and Guardiola. In the wider context this result can mean little more.

Nevertheless, they have a base camp for the next instalment of a domestic rivalry that has enthralled for three years. "Next season starts today," a defiant Sterling told Sky Sports afterwards.

In Europe, they could be punting for the big prize next month with a two-season ban confirmed. De Bruyne operating in that last chance saloon is a terrifying prospect for anyone.

Liverpool's first game since being confirmed as Premier League champions did not go to plan as deposed title-holders Manchester City romped to a 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

The Reds' first top-flight title in 30 years was confirmed when City lost to Chelsea last week and the celebrations of their long-awaited success perhaps caught up with Jurgen Klopp's side, who were ruthlessly dismantled by the rampant hosts. 

A Kevin De Bruyne penalty and clinical finishes from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden put the game to bed before half-time, while an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal in the second half added to the ignominy.

Liverpool remain a whopping 20 points ahead of City, who are 11 clear of third-place Leicester City.

The visitors had started brightly, Mohamed Salah crashing a low effort against the post inside the opening 20 minutes.

City soon hit the front, though, De Bruyne stroking home a 25th-minute penalty after Sterling was hauled down by Joe Gomez following a sumptuous turn.

Sterling made it 2-0 when he collected Foden's pass inside the area and cleverly clipped past Alisson from eight yards.

Foden added a sublime third shortly before the break, firing over Alisson after the brilliant De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan had combined to carve open Liverpool's defence.

Substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain then turned into his own net in the 66th minute as he stretched to clear Sterling's effort on goal.

City substitute Riyad Mahrez had a stoppage-time goal ruled out by VAR after a handball by Foden in the build-up, but it mattered little as the damage had been well and truly inflicted on Klopp's men by then.

 

What does it mean? Wounded City humble new champions

Given the scoreline, you would be forgiven for thinking Klopp had decided to field a team of youngsters following their confirmation as Premier League champions. As it was, this was the Reds' strongest XI. They were no match for a City side clearly hurt by losing their title last week, though.

Pep Guardiola will have seen this as an opportunity to lay down a marker for next season and his side did not let him down. Roll on the 2020-21 campaign.

Sterling finally makes his mark against Reds

The England international had to wait until his ninth appearance against his former club to net against them and he certainly enjoyed the moment. He was superb throughout, linking up with De Bruyne and Foden to devastating effect.

Gomez endures game to forget       

Gomez and Sterling had a spat while on England duty last year and the Liverpool defender had a torrid time against his international colleague here.

The City man forced Gomez into a foul for De Bruyne's penalty and generally ran him ragged throughout.

What's next?

Guardiola's men travel to Southampton on Sunday, while the Reds host relegation-threatened Aston Villa at Anfield on the same day.

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Ahead of Liverpool's trip to City on Thursday, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Ilkay Gundogan has no issues with giving Premier League champions Liverpool a guard of honour as he acknowledges Manchester City must accept the Reds have been the better side.

A week after City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea confirmed Liverpool as champions, Jurgen Klopp's side head to the Etihad Stadium to face the side 23 points beneath them in the table.

As it is their first game since they sealed the title, Liverpool will be afforded a guard of honour by their next opponents, a tradition Guardiola has already said his team intend to observe.

Gundogan, who was part of the City side that won back-to-back titles prior to this season, has no qualms with standing in line and applauding the players of a rival due to their dominance across the campaign. 

"I am not sure if I have done it before to be honest," the Germany international said.

"It is a tradition in England so obviously we will follow tradition. They deserve it because they are the champions.

"I can imagine that people from the outside such as media and fans make it bigger than it actually is. A lot of people also think that we are enemies but I think we are just rivals. Rivals who play to win.

"That's what they do and that is what we do. If someone is better than you, whether that is in a game or competition, you have to accept it and congratulate them.

"Next time, when you get the chance, you have to take the chance and make it better. That is how I see it."

City will bid to dethrone Liverpool next season without midfielder David Silva as he is leaving the club after 10 years.

His exit is expected to provide more opportunities for 20-year-old midfielder Phil Foden, who has only started four Premier League games this season but has impressed in appearances off the bench and in training, with Gundogan convinced he can be Silva's heir.

"His numbers are getting better and also his influence on our game is improving," Gundogan added.

"I think he is on the right way, and with David leaving, it is more important for us to have someone to step into that role. Maybe not directly, but with time.

"He definitely has the potential and we are here to help him, to give him the support he needs, and I think he can show the best Phil Foden that he can be."

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Here, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Pep Guardiola does not see the need to sign a replacement for David Silva due to the development of Phil Foden, a player he says will be important for Manchester City for the next decade.

Foden put in a man-of-the-match display in City's 5-0 hammering of Burnley on Monday, scoring twice and providing a fine pass in the build-up to a goal from Silva.

Spain midfielder and City great Silva is to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of 2019-20 after 10 trophy-laden seasons.

City boss Guardiola says Foden – who has three goals in two games since the Premier League restarted following the coronavirus break – is showing all the signs he is ready to fill the sizeable void left by Silva.

"When David said it was his last year, I told the board we have Phil, so we don't have to invest," Guardiola said in a quote reported by BBC Sport.

Guardiola later added at a news conference: "[For] David [Silva] it is difficult to find a replacement like him and what he has done for this club.

"For the people from Abu Dhabi [City's owners] who have made investments in good players like Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio [Aguero], Yaya Toure, many of these players, David as well, have helped us to be who we are as a team, as a club.

"So, it's difficult to find a replacement, but of course you have a young Manchester City fan [Foden] who every time he plays, he has something unique: his passion.

"He gives his passion to all of us in the way he trains and his love of football and every time he plays, he plays good.

"He's a guy who plays box-to-box and his sense for the goal is incredible and in the next decade, 15 years, he will be an outstanding player for us, for this amazing club. I have no doubts.

"I've seen his behaviour when he doesn't play and, in the training sessions, he never complains or has a bad face. When your behaviour is that way, always you can improve.

"With a bad face, you cannot improve, it's impossible. With a good face, you can always improve. Wanting to listen, learn and he deserves to be part of this squad and every minute he gets is well deserved."

Guardiola says one of Foden's greatest qualities is his versatility.

"The good players play everywhere. The guys who understand the game and what he has to do in every single moment of the game and every single action. He can play everywhere," he added.

"Phil is one of them, especially up front. Of course, he is not a 'winger winger', but he can play there.

"We cannot forget that he won the [Under-17] World Cup with England playing as a right winger, so he can play in this position and play everywhere.

"But I like him to play close to the box because he has something special when it comes to sensing a goal.

"It's not easy to find wingers with such a sense for goal. He scored the other day [against Arsenal], he scored two [against Burnley] and made an incredible assist, the penalty he made an incredible pass to Sergio too.

"So, he's a guy that when he is close to the box, he always gives something. We can count on him, without a doubt."

Phil Foden is not relishing David Silva's impending departure from Manchester City, joking the club should try to give the veteran playmaker a new contract.

England Under-21 star Foden scored twice in a 5-0 demolition of Burnley on Monday, with Riyad Mahrez also netting a double as Silva also got in on the act.

The Spain great will leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of this season, bringing down the curtain on a trophy-laden decade that has seen him establish himself as one of the finest players in City's history.

Silva leaving the stage is likely to create more first-team opportunities for Foden, although he is disappointed to see a man he has frequently cited as an inspiration on the way out.

"They should extend his contract to be honest! How he plays today, he's unbelievable to play with," Foden told Sky Sports.

"I don't want to think about [Silva leaving] too much.

"I'm just enjoying playing with him. He's a great guy and a legend of the club."

Foden scored the only goal as City secured a 1-0 win over Tottenham in last season's knife-edge title run-in, while he was named man of the match in March's EFL Cup final triumph against Aston Villa.

Nevertheless the 20-year-old felt he reached a new professional high in dismantling Burnley.

"I think that was my best game in City shirt, to be honest," he said.

"I'm still learning every day, I'm still young. I've got a long way to go.

"I'm really happy when I put performances like that in."

Foden's finest moment of the match arguably came in between his two goals – a beautiful reverse pass from a short corner routine that released Bernardo Silva to set up namesake David for number four.

"We have a set-piece coach. We've been working really hard on short corners and defending as well," he added.

"I knew where I was going to play the pass, it's just about just disguising it to give the player more time. I'm glad it came off."

Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez helped themselves to two goals apiece as Manchester City ran up a 5-0 Premier League win over Burnley.

Sean Dyche only being able to name seven substitutes – including two goalkeepers – suggested his team were ill-equipped for the task at hand, and so it proved.

There was little doubt over the outcome from the moment Foden produced a sweetly struck 22nd-minute opener.

Mahrez and David Silva scored beautifully constructed goals either side of the former slotting home a penalty in first-half stoppage time.

Foden, who also completed the scoring in last Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Arsenal, was on target again in the 63rd minute and City's win means Liverpool's title wait will go on a little longer.

Jurgen Klopp's men cannot mathematically be confirmed as champions when they host Crystal Palace this week, with their mammoth lead trimmed to 20 points.

City initially lacked tempo and struggled to get in behind a deep-lying Burnley defence, something Foden took out of the equation by arrowing a stunning 25-yard strike into the bottom-right corner.

A glorious raking pass from Fernandinho was met with a deft first touch from Mahrez that allowed him to torment Charlie Taylor before firing home across Nick Pope right footed.

The Burnley goalkeeper guessed correctly but could not prevent the Algeria international from making it 3-0 from the spot, after a VAR review showed Ben Mee was fractionally late into his challenge on Sergio Aguero.

Aguero hobbled out of the action as a result of that incident but it did nothing to check City's momentum, with Foden once again instrumental in the 51st minute – releasing Bernardo Silva with a delicious reverse pass. David Silva was the beneficiary among those queueing up to score.

Kevin De Bruyne's introduction in place of Mahrez with an hour played was a sorry sight for the beleaguered visitors and the Belgium star scythed through midfield in his typical manner, feeding Bernardo Silva whose low cross was touched towards Foden by Gabriel Jesus for another fine finish.

During the match, Burnley issued a statement to strongly condemn those responsible for a plane flown over the Etihad Stadium carrying a banner that read "White Lives Matter Burnley".

What does it mean? Life after Sane for City

Pep Guardiola's confirmation that Bayern Munich-bound Leroy Sane - a late substitute for Foden - will not sign a new contract at the club made headlines on Friday and his suggestion he might not seek a replacement for the Germany winger raised eyebrows among some of the City faithful. The men in possession certainly made their case, with Foden deployed in the left-wing berth where Sane excelled and Mahrez locating the devastating Leicester City form he has only shown sparingly since moving to Manchester.

Foden fans expectations once more

Such is Foden's status, as a homegrown talent and a boyhood fan of a club where the route from the academy to the first team has been largely blocked over the past decade, considerable scrutiny awaits his every appearance. The fact he thrives under this microscope suggests a temperament to match his talent. Across 12 starts in all competitions this term, the England Under-21 playmaker has five goals and seven assists.

Behind-the-scenes ructions sell Dyche short

Burnley rarely looked like a side heading into this match on a seven-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. The coronavirus hiatus obviously robbed them of that momentum but Dyche certainly deserved better than having a chunk of first-team regulars unavailable due to contract brinkmanship. He made his displeasure with the situation fairly clear before kick-off and a third consecutive 5-0 thrashing on this ground will have done little for his mood. The Burnley board must act judiciously to patch up relations with a man who is unquestionably their most valuable asset.

What's next?

City are on the road at Chelsea on Thursday, when Burnley host Watford.

After upwards of a year of speculation, Pep Guardiola has confirmed Leroy Sane will leave Manchester City.

The Germany winger is widely expected to join Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich after rejecting a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.

His existing terms expire in June 2021, although the likelihood is City will begin the 2020-21 campaign without Sane in their ranks.

A solution in the transfer market might not be easily found, considering the two-season Champions League ban City have appealed against at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the expected wider economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we look at some of the players in Guardiola's squad who – for better or worse – might be impacted by Sane's departure.

RAHEEM STERLING

If Sane had bought into Guardiola's demands of a wide forward and maximised his talent to the extent England star Sterling has, this is probably not a conversation we would be having. While the City boss increasingly appeared not to trust Sane's contribution during last season's treble run-in, Sterling was and remains absolutely integral to his plans.

However, being almost exclusively played on the left during Sane's injury absence this season has seemed to take a toll upon the 25-year-old, whose preference for cutting in on his right foot had started to become predictable and easier to defend. Sane's presence allowed him to switch flanks and ask varied questions of defences. If his departure means Sterling being restricted to left-wing duties, City might struggle to fully realise the ample talents of their most potent attacking threat.

GABRIEL JESUS

Life as understudy to the club's all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero appears to weigh heavily upon Jesus at times, while playing an entire World Cup as Brazil's number nine without scoring – as he did at Russia 2018 – knocked his confidence considerably.

The 23-year-old rehabilitated his standing with the Selecao in a wide-right role during last season's Copa America triumph, while he put in arguably his finest City performance on the left flank when he opened the scoring in February's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid. A selfless performer, Aguero and Sterling would have few complaints were Jesus to fill that position on a more frequent basis.

PHIL FODEN

Of the pending exits at Manchester City, David Silva's departure at the end of this season is viewed as the most significant for presumed heir Foden. However, Guardiola has deployed the England Under-21 playmaker on the left of a front three this season, most notably when he was thrust into the EFL Cup final against Aston Villa and turned in an irresistible man-of-the-match display.

Foden came off the bench against Arsenal to score for the 11th time in 63 senior appearances, once again showing a keen eye for goal. He averages 2.5 chances created per 90 minutes in the Premier League.

BENJAMIN MENDY

When Sane leaves, City will badly lack for natural width down the left side. One man who provides that if fit and firing is left-back Mendy, although his travails following two bouts of knee surgery since moving to Manchester in 2017 mean that "if" is doing an awful lot of work.

Guardiola has always been reluctant to pair Mendy and Sane, seemingly because both men like to operate in similar zones of the pitch. Without the latter, Mendy would be free to rove and Jesus could thrive as a tucked-in forward inside him. The big question, however, is whether the force-of-nature attacking threat City signed from Monaco can ever truly return after what his body has been through.

RIYAD MAHREZ

City's record signing when he joined in 2018, Mahrez has not been able to hit the heights he did at Leicester, where his mercurial skills secured the PFA Player of the Year award amid the most unlikely Premier League title triumph in 2015-16.

More often than not at City, the Algeria star has looked a rung or two below Sterling and Sane in terms of elite quality. Mahrez's 30 Premier League starts have yielded 14 goals and 12 assists in sky blue at a comparable per-90-minute rate to Sane. Maybe without him he can truly thrive?

JAYDEN BRAAF

The latest jewel of City's academy set-up, Braaf has already amassed a considerable personal following thanks to some moments of individual skill for the age-group teams that quickly went viral.

City would surely be loath for Braaf, who is reportedly admired by numerous clubs across Europe, to become the next Jadon Sancho and depart for superstardom elsewhere at a knockdown price. Sane's departure might just give the Diutch youngster a way in.

For Eduardo Camavinga, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden, Joshua Zirkzee and Youssoufa Moukoko, a delayed European Championship may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The 24-team tournament, which was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, was due to start on Friday. Instead, it will now begin on June 11, 2021.

There is a strong likelihood several nations will have different starting line-ups in 2021, with new stars tipped to emerge.

Using Opta data, we take a look at those uncapped youngsters who might benefit from the Euros being moved back to next year.

 

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA

The central-midfield axis of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante was well-established during France's run to glory at World Cup 2018, though, due to injury, neither man featured regularly in the Euro qualifiers as Didier Deschamps utilised Corentin Tolisso, a bit-part player for Bayern Munich, and Moussa Sissoko, who will soon turn 31.

Teenager Camavinga shot to prominence by dominating in a win over Paris Saint-Germain as a 16-year-old in August. His assist in that game makes him the youngest player to be involved in a goal across Europe's top five leagues this term, and he has since established himself as a regular for high-flying Rennes.

His 64 tackles in Ligue 1 this season is more than any other midfielder in the major European leagues, while he played more than three time as many minutes (2,112) as any other under-18 player in those divisions prior to the COVID-19 suspension.

Already a France Under-21 international, Camavinga has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and, based on his current trajectory, it is easy to see him muscling his way into Deschamps' plans.

 

ANSU FATI

The youngest goalscorer in the history of the Champions League was granted Spanish citizenship in September and it appears only a matter of time before Fati is a senior La Roja international.

There were reports that the Barcelona forward, who was born in Guinea-Bissau, would have been included in the preliminary Spain squad for the March friendlies that were ultimately cancelled.

There were no teenagers in the most recent Spain squad so, at 17, Fati can use the extra time to convince Luis Enrique he is a special case worthy of a regular spot in his selection.

After all, only Lionel Messi (110) and Luis Suarez (125) in the Barca squad have better minutes-per-goal ratios than Fati (202) this season, while the fearless and gifted teenager averages the fourth-most dribble attempts (2.38) per match among Blaugrana players.

PHIL FODEN

You have to be pretty decent if Pep Guardiola has called you "the most talented player" he has ever coached.

Although there have been only fleeting glimpses of Foden in a Manchester City shirt, he has certainly made an impact. In his 11 starts this term, Foden's had a hand in nine goals (seven assists, two goals), while he also has the best minutes-per-assist record (155) across all competitions of Premier League players to have played more than 1,000 minutes.

Regular playing time will surely be less of an issue for the 20-year-old once David Silva departs after the 2019-20 season.

The Spaniard's heir-apparent Foden has already caught the eye for England Under-21s, and might have made the cut for Gareth Southgate's squad in 2020 anyway, but both club and country will have earmarked the classy midfielder for a breakthrough campaign next year.

JOSHUA ZIRKZEE

The enforced break could be considered both a blessing and a curse for Bayern Munich's young Dutch striker Zirkzee.

An injury to Robert Lewandowski had resulted in the 19-year-old starting Bayern's previous two Bundesliga games before the suspension and, having needed just three minutes to score his first two league goals earlier in the season, he was seemingly set to enhance his reputation in the following weeks.

But the season hiatus put paid to that and Lewandowski was fit to return when the campaign resumed, with the Pole typically lethal since. But that doesn't take away from the fact Zirkzee is Bayern's third-youngest Bundesliga goalscorer, as he lays the groundwork for a potential breakthrough season in 2020-21, either at Bayern or on loan elsewhere.

Having only represented Netherlands as high as Under-19 level so far, Zirkzee still has a way to go to force his way into Ronald Koeman's senior squad for competitive fixtures, but another year of development will surely aid his case, particularly given the Oranje's lack of established options in the striker role.

YOUSSOUFA MOUKOKO

A name that may be unfamiliar to many outside of Germany, though perhaps not for much longer given the goalscoring record Borussia Dortmund's 15-year-old prodigy has.

Moukoko netted for the 34th time in his 20th Under-19 Bundesliga game in March, setting a record for the competition, having scored 50 in 28 appearances at U17 level last season.

A Euros this year would have definitely come too soon for Moukoko but Lucien Favre wants the Germany youth international training with his first team soon, and following a regulation change, he will be able to make his debut when he turns 16 in November.

By this time next year, a man already on Joachim Low's radar may just be a long shot for Die Mannschaft's senior team too.

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