Pep Guardiola considers benching key player for Real Madrid game after public grievances

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Pep Guardiola has jokingly threatened to rest Rodri for Manchester City’s clash with Real Madrid in midweek. Following a 3-3 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash, City are hoping that home advantage on Wednesday can help the team book their spot in the final four of the competition.

The Citizens looked somewhat unstoppable last season but have failed to reach that frightening level just yet, with the busy fixture schedule seemingly taking its toll on some players. Phil Foden and Rodri are among those to have featured the most regularly for City this season, and the latter has remained a vital clog in Guardiola’s side.

The Spain international was rested for City’s clash with Luton Town on Saturday, having publicly spoken out about his fatigue, and his manager has joked that the midfielder will remain on the sidelines on Wednesday. Mateo Kovacic stepped up in the absence of Rodri on Saturday, marking the occasion with a sensational goal as City cruised to a 5-1 victory.

The Croatia international will hope that he did enough to justify remaining in the starting XI against Los Blancos, though it is hard to look past Rodri returning at the heart of the midfield. The 27-year-old has asserted himself as one of the best in the business over the past few seasons, and it is no wonder that Guardiola has been so reluctant to rotate him out of his team in all competitions.

Last week, the ex-Atletico Madrid star said: “I do need a rest. Let’s see how we speak, how we live the situation.

Sometimes it is what it is. I need to adjust.

It [rest] is something we are planning, yeah.”

Real Madrid midfielders Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga, and Luka Modric will certainly be wary of the threat that a fully-fit Rodri holds offensively given he has scored eight goals and provided 12 assists this term, and Carlo Ancelotti will be keen to ensure that his team are set up to minimize his threat from deep areas.

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