Guardiola benches De Bruyne for Man City's EFL Cup final clash with Aston Villa

By Dom Farrell 1 March 2020 7
Guardiola benches De Bruyne for Man City's EFL Cup final clash with Aston Villa

Kevin De Bruyne will start Manchester City's EFL Cup final showdown against Aston Villa on the bench.

De Bruyne starred as Pep Guardiola's side came from behind to win 2-1 at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday – creating Gabriel Jesus' equaliser before dispatching a late penalty to give City a first-leg advantage in the last-16 tie.

But Guardiola has opted to manage the workload of his star playmaker, who sat out large chunks of last season with two separate knee injuries.

Club captain David Silva takes the armband from De Bruyne as he returns to the starting line-up alongside Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho, the experienced trio having been named among the substitutes at the Santiago Bernabeu, while England Under-21 midfielder Phil Foden looks set to complete a front three that also includes Raheem Sterling.

Elsewhere on another eyebrow-raising team sheet from Guardiola – showing eight changes from midweek – there are defensive recalls for John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Orjan Nyland has been named in goal for Villa, the understudy having impressed sufficiently in the semi-final triumph against Leicester City to keep the experienced Pepe Reina on the bench. Similarly, City understudy Claudio Bravo retains his cup place at the expense of regular number one Ederson.

City are aiming to extend their recent dominance of the competition by winning a fifth EFL Cup in the past seven seasons, along with a third in succession having beaten Arsenal 3-0 in the 2018 final before overcoming Chelsea on penalties 12 months ago.

When the sides met at Villa Park in January, Aguero hit a hat-trick and De Bruyne excelled as the visitors ran out 6-1 winners.

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