Manchester City may have to face rivals Liverpool without star striker Erling Haaland on Saturday after Pep Guardiola confirmed the Norway international has not yet been passed fully fit.
Haaland picked up a groin injury shortly before the international break which forced him to withdraw from Norway duty, with his father admitting Haaland’s involvement against Liverpool was ‘touch and go’.
Guardiola has left the door open to a return but acknowledged that Haaland may not be ready in time.
“Erling is in recovery, we will see how he feels after the training session,” Guardiola said. “We still today – and at the end the doctor and especially the player – will decide. We will see, we will see what happens.”
With Haaland’s involvement far from a certainty, here’s how City could line up without him.
The simplest solution for Guardiola is a straight swap in attack, with Haaland’s place going to Argentina international Julian Alvarez instead.
Alvarez was even mentioned by Guardiola during Friday’s press conference when the boss was asked whether he’d have to change his plans without Haaland.
“The football is the quality of the players… Haaland has his skills, Julian has his own skills,” Guardiola said.
Guardiola sprung a surprise in January’s 1-0 win over Chelsea when he deployed Kevin De Bruyne as an auxiliary striker alongside Haaland, leaving Alvarez on the bench.
De Bruyne spent plenty of time in a central role last season when City were without a recognised striker and, given his elite movement and vision, the Belgian could easily return there to try and pile on Liverpool’s defensive struggles.
We’ve also seen Phil Foden in attack this season, but the Englishman is sidelined after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix.
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