Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola must find quick resolutions to keep his team afloat in the Champions League as they prepare to face Olympique Marseille in France on Tuesday.
The former Premier League champion has been plagued by problems since the start of the current campaign, including a growing injury list and some players isolating themselves due to coronavirus cases.
Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gündoğan have all contracted the virus, Gündoğan and Mahrez have recently returned to action.
Laporte went on to suffer a muscle injury as well as Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, who limped in his Premier League opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
There is already a scarcity of attack after Sergio Aguero suffered another hamstring injury on Saturday in his opener after a knee injury last season, which cost Aguero four months.
A quick break between the previous season disrupted by the coronavirus and the next list of matches with players leaving on an international mission proved “too much” for Guardiola’s star team to deal with.
Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne took a hit and Guardiola said England defender Kyle Walker was “exhausted”.
“This is why the players get injured,” Guardiola said.
“It’s no secret so you just pray every day and hope everyone finishes the game without a problem. We struggled a lot for many reasons. We have to take it game by game and see what happens. past.”
The 1-1 draw at West Ham on Saturday confirmed it was City’s worst start to the season since 2014.
Two years ago, Guardiola’s men sidelined national competition in record-breaking trophy races.
However, the departure of key players like defender Vincent Kompany, Spain playmaker David Silva and the absence of a struggling Aguero have raised concerns about a team seen as a goal machine.
Guardiola’s contract with the club expires at the end of the season and currently there has been no announcement of a planned extension.
This has led to speculation in UK newspapers that Guardiola could leave next year as the city plans a new direction, but the Spaniard declined to comment on such matters.
Elsewhere, Real Madrid will face Borussia Monchengladbach with a new boost of confidence following the 3-1 win over Barcelona this weekend.
The El Clasico victory came at a critical time for Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, whose future at the club seemed uncertain after a difficult start to the season.
A home loss to newly-promoted Cádiz raised alarm bells and the loss to Shakhtar Donetsk last week in the Champions League opener that led Spanish media to speculate on who might intervene in the short term to replace the French. coach.
Mauricio Pochettino, currently without a club and Raul Gonzalez, already at the club as coach of the youth squad, were in the best position to relieve Zidane of his duties, but after Saturday’s events they can sit down.
Zidane has gone back to basics against Barcelona at Camp Nou and his most trusted players have stepped up to save him.
No one more than Sergio Ramos, who delivered one of his best performances at the Clasico and scored the crucial second goal from the penalty spot.
The Spanish defender won the penalty which brought the score to 2-1 and left Barcelona with too much to do to get back into the game.
The 34-year-old is still awaiting news on a new contract that will extend his current contract beyond the end of this season.
President Florentino Perez said when the team won the championship in July: “He will end his career here. He is more than a captain for us.”
Ramos missed Real Madrid’s Champions League group opener with a knee problem but he appears to be back in great shape now and Madrid will need him because their defense suffers when he misses .
The Shakhtar has already proved this recently. Real have also battled Roma, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain when their talismanic captain went missing.
Ramos will be joined by Eden Hazard for the second group game although it remains to be seen if it’s really light at the end of the tunnel for Hazard or if Zidane just wants to keep him involved and feel part of the squad.
The Real Madrid coach said ahead of Shakhtar’s game last week that the Belgium international’s injury could prevent him from staying “a little longer than expected”.
But he was named to the squad to travel to Germany on Sunday with rookie right-back Sergio Santos.
The 19-year-old is leaving the youth squad due to Real Madrid’s crisis in this post with Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez and Alvaro Odriozola all injured.
Winger Lucas Vazquez will likely play the position after performing well as a substitute against Barcelona this weekend.