Pep Guardiola is 'praying' his Manchester City players come through the international break unscathed as he detailed their preparation plans before taking on Liverpool.
City marched into the FA Cup semi-finals after thrashing Burnley 6-0 at the weekend. A chance of a treble is still very much on for Guardiola's side this season, having been drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. And although City trail Arsenal by eight points in the Premier League title race, they do have a game in hand.
Liverpool were expected to challenge for the top-flight crown this term, having finished just a point behind City last season. Yet they have a battle to finish in the top four and are currently seven points behind Tottenham Hotspur.
The international break means that the Reds are not back in action until they face their modern-day foes City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 1 April.
There will be still plenty at stake for different reasons. Guardiola, speaking after the victory over Burnley, revealed he'll start planning for the visit of Jurgen Klopp's side three days before the encounter.
On the current break, he said: “It is what it is. For me, it’s perfect as I will go to Barcelona and Abu Dhabi so it’s perfect. I pray that no-one comes back with an injury. I said to the players – come back fit. You know exactly what you need.
“You work here every day with our incredible staff and backroom staff. What you need to be fit, you need to do it in the national team and, hopefully, the managers take care of the players as much as possible.
“The week now is rest, go with the national team, come back and three days to prepare for Liverpool and we will see what happens next.”