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Pep Guardiola explains Man City team selection vs Crvena Zvezda

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he has chosen to start Sergio Gomez for the club’s Champions League opener with Crvena Zvezda due to his versatility.

The Spanish left-back has not played much for Guardiola since his 2022 arrival. The 23-year-old played five times in last year’s run to the final, although did not feature after the 7-0 drubbing of RB Leipzig in the Round of 16.

Meanwhile, Matheus Nunes makes his first start for City. The deadline day signing came on for his debut at West Ham in Saturday’s 3-1 win and Guardiola has given him the nod again.

Explaining the inclusion of Gomez, Guardiola said: “He [Gomez] can play as a full back or as a winger, he can play in several positions. In attack we need a player who can do that and he trains very well. He’s a lovely lovely guy.”

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When asked what he tasked Nunes with doing during the match, Guardiola replied: “Be himself. In the end we ask of him something that he’s used to so he can do it. With his runners and when he arrives to the box… The best way to see how he develops is to play.”

City are without four players for the fixture. Kevin De Bruyne is a long-term absentee while John Stones is not yet ready to return from his knock.

Mateo Kovacic and Jack Grealish are nearing a return but are not quite ready to return to action having missed the international break for Croatia and England respectively.

City have not lost at home in the Champions League in five years. Their clash with Red Star Belgrade is their first at the Etihad since the famous 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in the second leg of last season’s competition.