Pep Guardiola will choose Zack Steffen for Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea because the manager would rather lose the tie than “lose the team” by not keeping faith with his regular goalkeeper for domestic cups.
City remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple after Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Borussia Dortmund sealed passage to the Champions League semi-finals. Ederson is Guardiola’s No 1 but the manager is adamant Steffen will play at Wembley, indicating that his players might otherwise lose trust in him.
“He’ll start – always I’ve done it like this,” Guardiola said. “Maybe we are going to win or we are going to lose but if Zack doesn’t play I’m going to lose the team and it is better to lose a game than lose the team.
“He played really well in the FA Cup, he’s a keeper from the national team of the USA, and when he plays he plays at a good level. He is a lovely guy who is training good and he deserves to play. I’m more than delighted to give him the chance.”
Guardiola is unconcerned that the 26-year-old is not as good with his feet as Ederson. “He can do it,” he said. “He has the personality, he has composure. No one in the world is like Eddie with the quality of his feet – in the short, in the long [game]; nobody.
“I don’t want Zack to do what Eddie does. He has to do what he can: try to save the balls. We are going to try and help him by conceding as few chances as possible, and after that [let’s hope he can] do a good game. We trust him a lot and that’s why he’s here.”
Phil Foden was again outstanding against Dortmund, scoring City’s second as the 20-year-old did in the opening leg. But Guardiola warned him to retain focus.
“He is young and he has to show it again every day on the grass. Phil is playing really well and receiving a lot of compliments but when he believes what he’s done is enough he will make a big mistake. I prefer to help Phil in this moment and at that age because he has to learn a lot. He will have very difficult moments in his career, and the best way to deal with these is always to focus on the green [pitch].”
The form of Foden and Riyad Mahrez has meant reduced playing time for Raheem Sterling recently. “He was maybe the second or third player for minutes this season so the trust with Raheem is intact,” Guardiola said.