Pep Guardiola made it clear he is not happy with Manchester City’s schedule after the World Cup.
City defeated Girona 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday, with Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland getting the goals.
The pair were two of four outfield players among City’s first-team regulars, along with Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan, to have started the match.
Reserve goalkeeper Stefan Ortega and back-up left-back Sergio Gomez also featured from the off, but the rest of the squad was made up of academy players.
City face Liverpool in the EFL Cup last 16 on Thursday, before taking on Leeds United and Everton on December 28 and 31 respectively in the Premier League, and Guardiola claimed he did not yet have enough players to prepare for the festive fixture list.
“We have four players – five players,” Guardiola told City’s official media channel.
“We have to see how they are coming back [from the World Cup]. We don’t have players. The big brains of football made this schedule so we are going to play this game.”
Haaland and De Bruyne’s goals helped us secure today’s win over Girona!
Here’s how it happened pic.twitter.com/lLyNQFiyJW
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 17, 2022
City had plenty of representation in Qatar, though De Bruyne and Gundogan had returned after early exits for Belgium and Germany respectively.
Aymeric Laporte and Rodri were knocked out in the last 16 with Spain and will return next week, while England internationals Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, John Stones and Kalvin Phillips, along with Portugal trio Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, as well as Netherlands defender Nathan Ake, are also set to join back up with the squad soon.
“Some players coming back now, in the next few days, step by step we have the people here,” Guardiola added.
“People are coming back soon. After that the English players and Portuguese – they’re coming back.”
Indeed, despite being one of the best teams in world football, City have only one player who will be competing in the final between Argentina and France on Sunday.
Julian Alvarez has been one of Argentina’s best performers in Qatar, scoring four goals, including twice in their semi-final win over Croatia.
“All of us are really happy for him,” said Guardiola.