Manchester City supporters have been left taken aback after Pep Guardiola left Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho out of his starting XI to face Real Madrid in the Champions League at the Bernabeu. City arrived in Spain knowing this season might be their last chance to win the competition for some time after UEFA handed them a Champions League ban for flouting Financial Fair Play rules.
Supporters had been hoping to see Sterling restored to the City starting XI following his return from a hamstring injury in time for the round of 16 tie.
However, like his illustrious team-mates Aguero and Fernandinho, the winger has been named among the substitutes for the first leg of the match-up of titans.
Gabriel Jesus leads the line for City instead of Aguero, with Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva charged with providing ammunition for the Brazilian striker.
Aymeric Laporte is partnered by Nicolas Otamendi in defence with Fernandinho on the bench and Rodri anchoring the Guardiola’s midfield in Madrid.
Guardiola’s City team selection incensed fans watching from afar and plenty took to Twitter to reveal their outrage towards the Spanish gaffer.
“Our bench is better than our starting line up? Make it make sense please,” wrote one fan.
Another said: “Admin there’s a typo, why is Aguero in the subs? Please correct this ASAP.”
A City fan had their own explanation for the team, saying: “Pep overthinking Champions League matches again.”
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A confused supporter, expecting a mistake to have been made, tweeted: “Nice one lads. Now show us the real line ups.”
A series of angry fans asked: “What the f*** am I looking at?!?!?”, “WHAT THE ACTUAL F*** IS THIS?” and “WHY IS AGUERO ON THE BENCH?”
Ilkay Gundogan’s inclusion prompted a City fan to post: “This Gundogan obsession that Pep has is disgusting.”
Meanwhile, fresh off the back of seeing their side lose 3-0 to Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a Chelsea fan wrote: “Trying to compete with us for worst line up of the gameweek?”
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Speaking pre-match, Guardiola had insisted City’s players shouldn’t be any more motivated to win the Champions League due to their impending ban.
Guardiola said: “There is no special motivation, even if it’s the last one (time), the desire has to be there, without that it’s impossible. More than that it’s another game – that’s all.
“This group of players will have a lot of chances, I know we play the king, I know the challenge we face but in the same time it’s not the last one.
“Unless you die and there’s no more chances you know there’ll be another opportunity. We play two games in the first one we try to be ourselves and do a good game.”
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