When the Uefa Champions League restarts in Lisbon, Portugal, three superstar strikers — Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Juventus’ Paulo Dybala — could well be absent due to injury concerns.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted on Sunday that Aguero is unlikely to be fit for the club’s Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.
Guardiola’s side face Real in the second leg of their last 16 tie on August 7 as they look to protect a 2-1 lead from the first meeting in Spain.
Aguero has been sidelined since June 22 with a knee injury that required surgery in Barcelona.
Earlier this week, Guardiola had raised hopes that City’s all-time record goalscorer could return for the clash at the Etihad Stadium.
But, speaking after City’s 5-0 win over Norwich on the last day of the Premier League season, Guardiola was far less confident about the Argentine forward’s availability to face the Spanish champions.
“I don’t think it will be possible,” Guardiola said.
Aguero has netted 23 times in all competitions this season, but Gabriel Jesus has stepped up in the Argentine’s absence in recent weeks, scoring four goals in his last seven matches, including the opener against Norwich.
City have never gone beyond the semi-finals of the Champions League, but David Silva is hoping to end his 10-year career at the club by completing his collection of medals.
The Spaniard played his final Premier League match on Sunday and was given a rousing reception by his teammates as he was substituted late on.
“I am emotional because I have been working with them 10 years,” said Silva. “I’m a lucky guy I had a lot of nice moments. Of course I couldn’t imagine when I came here to win so many titles and the way we won it.”
Silva has won 11 major trophies in his decade in Manchester as well as two European championships and a World Cup with Spain, but has never lifted the Champions League.
“I hope we can win the Champions League,” he added. “It’s a pity we cannot play with the people (in the stadium) but the safety of people is the most important thing.”
Madrid’s visit to Manchester will not be affected by the UK government’s decision to enforce a two-week quarantine for travellers arriving in the country from Spain.
Under plans agreed earlier this month, elite sport is among the industries exempt from the quarantine rules as long as the government’s guidelines and protocols are followed.
Dybala doubt for Juve
Aguero’s Argentine compatriot Dybala faces a race to be fit for Juventus’s Champions League last 16 return-leg game against Lyon on August 7 after the Italian champions confirmed Monday he had suffered a thigh injury.
Both Dybala and Brazilian right-back Danilo were forced off as Juventus sealed a ninth consecutive league title with a 2-0 win over Sampdoria in Turin on Sunday night.
Juventus said that tests on Dybala on Monday “revealed an elongation of the rectus femoris muscle of the left thigh. His condition will be evaluated day by day.”
That type of injury usually requires between 10 days and two weeks recovery time.
Dybala will miss Juventus’s final two league games against Cagliari and Roma this week, and is at risk for the match against Lyon in Turin, when they need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first match in France.
The 26-year-old has been a key member of Maurizio Sarri’s side this season with 17 goals in all competitions, including 11 in the league.
“Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Dybala made the difference,” said Sarri on Sunday.
“This Scudetto is in large part thanks to them.”
Right-back Danilo was, however, given the all-clear after taking a knock as his “tests were negative”.
Douglas Costa is set to miss the last-16 decider after the Brazil forward picked up a right thigh injury last week.
Costa is an important member of Sarri’s squad despite inconsistent displays and fitness issues, the 29-year-old has often been brought on as an impact substitute in the second half.
Juventus are targeting a third Champions League title and first since 1996, having finished runners-up seven times, most recently in 2015 and 2017.
Mbappe will be sidelined for “around three weeks” after spraining his ankle in the French Cup final, likely ruling him out of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta on August 12.
The France forward limped off in the first half of Friday’s 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne after a dreadful tackle that resulted in a red card for opposing captain Loic Perrin.
PSG said Tuesday medical imaging had confirmed the initial test results of a sprained right ankle, with Mbappe also sustaining ligament damage.
The club indicated the expected timeline for his return was “around three weeks”, meaning he will miss Friday’s French League Cup final against Lyon.
The diagnosis also leaves Mbappe a huge doubt for PSG’s resumption of their Champions League campaign, although the 21-year-old could be fit to return for the semi-finals if Thomas Tuchel’s side advance.
(With AFP inputs)