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Pep Guardiola explains Kevin De Bruyne absence from Real Madrid clash amid Manchester City squad illness fears



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has explained the absence of Kevin De Bruyne from Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg against Real Madrid.

The 32-year-old was an unused substitute at the Santiago Bernabéu in midweek, as Manchester City drew 3-3 with Real Madrid in the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash.

De Bruyne was expected to start the Sky Blues’ last-eight Champions League meeting with the La Liga heavyweights, but was reportedly replaced by Mateo Kovacic prior to the submission of the teamsheets as a result of unexpected illness.

Manchester City took the lead within the opening minutes of the encounter through Bernardo Silva’s smart free-kick, however Real Madrid hit back with quick-fire goals from Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo.

Stunning long-range second-half efforts from Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol saw Pep Guardiola’s side move into a 2-3 lead, however an emphatic Federico Valverde volley levelled the scoreline ahead of Wednesday’s second-leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The omission of De Bruyne came just days after the Belgian became the 18th Manchester City player to score 100 goals for the club, netting twice during a 2-4 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last Saturday.

The midfielder could start against Luton Town in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, as the Sky Blues look to move to the top of the table with a win over the Hatters.

De Bruyne’s illness had led to fears of sickness plaguing the first-team squad ahead of a pivotal week for the Blues’ silverware hopes, with a Champions League quarter-final and Emirates FA Cup semi-final on the horizon.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s match against Luton, Guardiola said: “I don’t know what is the problem. So, the people have vomits sometimes, you know? For fever, for eating something wrong, and you have vomits.

“It happened in the moment of the game, it’s what happens. So, it happens. I’ve had vomits in my life, hangover sometimes.

“I saw his face before the game and half-time, and I didn’t like the face. The game was what it was and I preferred to don’t waste energy for tomorrow, and for the next Wednesday, and the coming games. The schedule is so tight, and everyone has to make his contribution.”

After back-to-back games at the Etihad Stadium against Luton and Real Madrid, Manchester City travel to Wembley Stadium to face Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next Saturday evening.