Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the 51-year-old revealed that England international John Stones will be absent for the trip to the Spanish capital, having been forced off last week in the reverse fixture at the Etihad.
The former Everton man had been rushed back from a previous injury for the first-leg tie, lining up in an unconventional right-back berth, before having to be withdrawn after just 36 minutes after suffering another setback – with that muscle issue forcing him to miss the weekend’s win over Leeds United.
Guardiola did, however, offer some encouraging news over the fitness of veteran full-back Kyle Walker, with the 65-cap international having made a return to training this week after a recent layoff with an ankle problem:
“We will see tomorrow how Kyle wakes up after training today. He trained and he is going to travel and tomorrow we will decide. He was three weeks without training but happy he is back and hopefully he will be in contention.”
In a game of such magnitude, the City boss would likely have wanted to have a full complement of players to choose from, with news of Stones’ absence only set to be another unwanted headache for Guardiola.
The Etihad outfit head into the midweek meeting at the Bernabeu with a narrow one-goal lead in the tie following an enthralling 4-3 victory on their own turf last weekend, with the game still firmly in the balance against the newly-crowned Spanish champions.
The reigning Premier League winners face off against the 13-time European champions with the hope of reaching a second successive final, having suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side last year.
Title contenders Liverpool await in the showpiece, with Guardiola’s men hoping to join them in another all-English showdown.
Not having Stones in tow for the trip to Spain will come as a blow, however, with the talented 27-year-old offering both versatility and reliability, as well as previous experience in games of such a high profile nature.
Amid what’s been another relentless campaign for the Cityzens, it has proven frustrating on a personal note for the £25.2m-rated man – with just 13 Premier League appearances to his name this season – although the club’s European voyage has offered some welcome solace.
In his eight Champions League games thus far – all of which have come as starts – the one-time Barnsley man has been in imperious form, keeping three clean sheets, winning an impressive 67% of his total duels and also recording an outstanding 95% pass accuracy per 90.
The £250k-per-week gem has far too often been held back by injury since his £47.5m move to the club six years ago, although when in his stride he is seemingly a match for any forward line, having previously been dubbed “exceptional” by his manager earlier this term.
Although Guardiola does have both Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte to call upon – as well as Nathan Ake – at centre-back, Stones’ absence is no less a blow.