Man City's De Bruyne approaching peak form in home stretch - Guardiola


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FA Cup Quarter Final - Everton v Manchester City - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - March 20, 2021 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne in action Pool via REUTERS/Paul Ellis

(Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is approaching optimum fitness during a crucial stage of the season with the club fighting on four different fronts, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

The Belgian midfielder, who has extended his contract to 2025, missed games this season with hamstring and muscle problems but has put his injury troubles behind him to score six goals and grab one assist in his last nine matches in all competitions.

Premier League leaders City are chasing a quadruple this season and face a stern test on Saturday when they take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

"He's arriving in a good feeling... He's arriving for the next six weeks in the best condition physically and mentally," Guardiola told reporters.

"Signing a contract with the club is not just good for him but for the club and everyone. Hopefully he can continue at this level."

Striker Sergio Aguero will not be involved and Guardiola said the squad were tired after their midweek Champions League win in Dortmund but were in high spirits after City advanced to the semi-finals for the first time under the Spaniard.

"Imagine playing this game after not qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals, it would be tougher," Guardiola said.

"I would love to have more days to enjoy our qualification and recover better for the game. But the schedule is the schedule. When you are a contender in all the competitions you have this schedule."

City also face Tottenham in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on April 25.

Guardiola praised Thomas Tuchel for his impact at Chelsea after the German manager took the reins from Frank Lampard midway through the season to guide them to the Champions League and FA Cup semis.

"I know him from Mainz when I was in (Bayern) Munich, after he went to Dortmund and spent one or two games playing exactly the way he wanted to play," Guardiola said.

"He has a lot of experience winning at a top club like PSG and now at Chelsea. I knew from the beginning he would do a good job."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)

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