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Pep Guardiola explains Manchester City star’s absence from starting XI against Sevilla ahead of Newcastle clash



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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has provided an update on Julian Alvarez’s fitness ahead of his side’s Premier League meeting with Newcastle United on Saturday.

The treble winners collected their fourth trophy of the calendar year by pipping Sevilla on penalties in an entertaining UEFA Super Cup tie on Wednesday in Greece.

Guardiola’s men made a strong start to their title defence with a 3-0 beating of Burnley at Turf Moor last week, with Erling Haaland scoring twice and Rodri picking up where he left off last term by putting the game to bed.

Having seen Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez depart this summer, Guardiola has tinkered with his side in pre-season and has notably deployed Julian Alvarez in a deeper role behind Erling Haaland.

Alvarez, who joined City from River Plate last summer, enjoyed a sensational campaign for club and country last season – as he led Argentina to World Cup glory and won a treble of trophies with the Premier League champions.

The 23-year-old was understudy to Erling Haaland last season but is expected to feature regularly for the European champions in the coming months, with Kevin De Bruyne set for up to fourth months on the sidelines.

After impressing in a number 10 role against Burnley last week, Alvarez was expected to start from the off in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in Athens.

However, the forward started from the bench and as it became more and more likely that the tie would progress to penalties, Guardiola called on the World Cup winner, who converted his spot-kick and helped City to their second European title in three months.

Speaking in a press conference ahead of Saturday’s visit of Newcastle United, Guardiola explained why the Argentina international was not started in midweek. “Julian (Alvarez) had a problem, (he) was in discomfort otherwise he would have played,” the City boss said.

“And he (Alvarez) is becoming so important for us and he only managed to play in Greece for 15-20 minutes, especially as he’s an incredible penalty-taker. In terms of personality, that’s why he played the last minutes.”