Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal loss to Chelsea shouldn’t be viewed as the end of their quadruple hopes but “just one more game.”
Maybe he’s just trying to talk himself into that mindset so it transmits to the players as they come to terms with one of their four desired trophies moving out of their reach, with two of three more still very much up for grabs with the League Cup Final a week away and the Champions League semifinals a few days after that.
And because of that, with Man City’s ultimate goal very much the European Cup, all ears were trained toward Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s second-half injury.
“It doesn’t look good. He has pain,” Guardiola said of the late injury to his top player. “We will see. Tomorrow he will have a test.”
As for the loss, it was tight. There was very much a final feel to it, and at times looked more like early 2000s calcio.
City had 56 percent of the ball and out-attempted Chelsea 11-5, but both teams had three shots on target and only one found its way home.
Mason Mount slipped Timo Werner down the left and the German found Hakim Ziyech, who defied a slow-to-react Benjamin Mendy and out-of-place Zack Steffen for the lone goal of a 1-0 semifinal.
“They made a goal from a counterattack,” Guardiola said after. “We didn’t create much in the final third and make many one-versus-one actions. But in general, it was a tight game and anything can happen in these types of games. They defended well and are a strong team.
“I know how we reacted in the second half and it was good. We have not had a midweek free for eight months. We have played a lot of games and it will continue. Now it is the Premier League, the Carabao Cup next week. It’s just one more game.”
Chelsea’s chances were just plain bigger than City’s as well, as Thomas Tuchel’s defensive ideas have been cemented in his Champions League semifinals.
Who knows? It could work out where England goes from a hopeful quadruple winner to a pair of double winners.