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Guardiola blames too many games for De Bruyne injury

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Pep Guardiola will be without his main man for at least the next three months and, understandably, he isn’t best pleased about it.

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After the news broke that Kevin De Bruyne has injured ligaments in his right knee, Guardiola spoke to the media ahead of City’s clash with Huddersfield Town on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). 

The Spaniard believes KDB, who was their Player of the Season in 2017-18 and had a superb World Cup for Belgium this summer, didn’t have enough rest before suffering the injury in training.

“Sometimes it is normal – the players don’t rest, they come back and have a short recovery and we say ‘come on, let’s go’ – sometimes human beings have a limit,” Guardiola said. “We demand a lot of the players. More than 11 months and after immediately they come back. I am pretty sure this has an influence. When you are fresh here (in your head) and in your legs, this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

Ah, the old ‘the players are playing too much these days’ debate has reared its ugly head again. Our advice: get used to hearing this type of talk from managers across Europe in the next few weeks and months.

Unfortunately De Bruyne, like many other stars, has been rushed back into the thick of things after no real preseason following Belgium’s run to the final four of the World Cup tournament.

The mercurial playmaker pretty much played for 11 months flat out and was handed a few weeks of vacation before being launched back into intense training and matches. It’s such a tough balancing act because the player wants to play, the manager obviously needs his star players and the fans want to see him back on the pitch as soon as possible.

But at what cost?

Guardiola has long been an advocate of the winter break and reducing the load on players and KDB’s untimely injury will give him another reason to get on his soapbox about that topic and he will no doubt be able to drum up plenty of support for it in 2018-19 as other PL managers struggle to manage the tiredness of their stars.

Does Guardiola have a point? Probably. Will things change anytime soon? The winter break next season may help out, but until then the top teams have the PL, UEFA Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup to worry about.

The fact of the matter is that in a World Cup year there is always a short turnaround back to league play and managers must be smart when deciding if they can use their stars early in the season.

The likes of Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool may well have a crowded treatment room come December time if they do not manage the workload of their players properly.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

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It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

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The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

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A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf