Pep Guardiola admits the Eurovision Song Contest has given him a headache as he looks to keep Manchester City’s treble bid on track.
The Premier League leaders face a crucial trip to relegation-threatened Everton on Sunday, three days before they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
City boss Guardiola would have preferred the Goodison Park clash to be played on Saturday but, with Eurovision taking place in Liverpool city centre that day, that could not be sanctioned for security reasons.
That means Real, who are out of contention for the LaLiga title and are in action on Saturday against Getafe, will have a day’s rest more than City heading into Wednesday’s encounter.
Guardiola said at a press conference: “My thought is just Everton, no more than that.
“Eleven months working for the Premier League, I don’t want to be distracted for Madrid because I won’t have time.
“Well, not much, because we play Sunday – thank you so much. I don’t understand it, but I don’t want to fight for that any more.
“We have to adapt to it. It doesn’t matter, I don’t fight any more the schedules.
“In the end we can’t play Saturday because of Eurovision or something like that in Liverpool and we don’t have enough bodies to handle two important events sometimes.
“OK, you have to adapt. What can I do? We’d prefer to play Saturday to be able to prepare but it is what it is.
“I’m pretty sure the Premier League want to help the teams. I don’t think they make it uncomfortable.”
Unlike Real, City will not want to ease up over the weekend as they look to keep Arsenal at bay in the title race.
The #UCL Player and Goal of the Week! 🤩
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 12, 2023
City go into the weekend fixtures with a clear advantage, leading the Gunners by a point with a game in hand.
They could face a tough challenge against an Everton side fighting for survival and who claimed a significant victory by thrashing European hopefuls Brighton 5-1 in their last outing.
Real defender Dani Carvajal has suggested the intensity of City’s fixtures could benefit the Spanish side – who drew 1-1 with City in Tuesday’s first leg – but Guardiola is confident his players can stand up to the challenge.
He said: “Every player is ready to play and give his own absolute contribution.
“I thought a lot about a substitution in the Bernabeu. I decided on players on the bench that are so dynamic – Phil (Foden), Julian (Alvarez), Riyad (Mahrez).
“But in the moment we didn’t need that, we didn’t need a player to increase our rhythm.
“But everybody will be so important, we have a lot of games and everyone is ready.”