Key man hands Man City massive Champions League final injury boost
Key Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan has declared himself fully fit ahead of the Champions League final against Premier League rivals Chelsea this weekend.
The midfielder was an unused substitute in City’s final Premier League game of the season against Everton after injuring his knee in the previous fixture at Brighton. But the 30-year-old insists there are no issues and he is ready to play a part against Thomas Tuchel’s men in Porto on Saturday.
Gundogan said: “I’m all right. I was a bit more cautious in the Brighton game because of the knock on my knee.
“Started to feel all the muscles around a bit and I didn’t want to pull anything, that’s why we were cautious. I didn’t miss any training sessions after that game so I am feeling good.”
Gundogan is the only member of the City squad to have played in a Champions League final previously. He was in the Borussia Dortmund side beaten by Bayern Munich in 2013.
He does not feel that has any relevance now and is preparing for the upcoming encounter as the biggest game of his career.
“I don’t know if I want to remember that day because we were not able to win it,” said Gundogan, who scored a penalty in that loss at Wembley. “But jokes aside it was a great achievement for that young Dortmund side to get into the final.
“It just felt like we were on a run, we were not thinking much about anything – we just went out on the pitch to play, to have fun, to win. There was not much else.
“That’s why I don’t really know what the feeling should be like. Everyone is different.
“There are some maybe thinking a lot about the final and maybe some who are able to put it to one side.
“At the end of the day, I feel it is just about everyone being prepared. Everyone knows himself the best.
“It is probably the biggest game of all of our lives, of all our careers, so far and we will try everything that is possible to be able to lift the trophy at the end of the 90 minutes.”
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Pep has no issues with CL final ref
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola insists he does not care that Spanish official Antonio Mateu Lahoz will referee the Champions League final.
Guardiola was sent off after confronting Lahoz during City’s decisive quarter-final second-leg defeat to Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium three years ago. The City manager, who had been angered that a Leroy Sane goal was disallowed, later said Lahoz “is a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special”.
Guardiola has had his run-ins with Lahoz before. The Spanish official angered Guardiola by not giving City a penalty in a last-16 clash in 2016/17 and he also gave Napoli two penalties at the Etihad Stadium the season after.
The official has also angered Guardiola from his time in LaLiga in charge of Barcelona.
“I know him from Spain,” Guardiola said after the Liverpool defeat. “I could imagine this happening.”
Lahoz will now referee City again as he takes charge of Saturday’s clash against Chelsea in Porto.
Asked if the appointment bothered him, Guardiola said at a press conference: “No. Not (for) one second. I could not care less.
“I am so confident in my team. You cannot imagine how confident I am in my team and what we have to do.”
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