The midfielder opened the scoring and, but for a well-oiled Liverpool offside trap, might have bagged himself a couple of assists with an array of slide rule passes. However, Pep Guardiola looks set to be without his talisman when these two titans of English football up meet for the third time this season in Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal.
De Bruyne is one of several City players who came out worse for wear from their midweek excursions, with the Citizens surviving a predictably bruising encounter with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the Champions League that saw more than its fair share of head injuries, hair pulling, cynical tackles, head butts and all manner of assorted histrionics.
While Guardiola’s side emerged the victors over two legs, the likes of De Bruyne and Kyle Walker, both of whom started at the weekend, are listed as doubts for Saturday’s crunch clash. The Mail is reporting that the Belgian is suffering from an impact ankle injury that will put him out of action for the next 9-10 days, while Walker has been seen wearing a protective boot. Phil Foden also played out the game with a bandage wrapped around his head following a more than boisterous challenge from Atletico’s Felipe.
While no football supporter can justify celebrating an opponent’s injury woes, few clubs can roll out a B team that capable of putting in a respectable showing in the Champions League knockout rounds quite like City can.
Nevertheless, City will undoubtedly be worse off if their stars cannot suit up on Saturday, especially an in-form De Bruyne who has registered four goals and an assist in his last four league games.
With both sides still chasing all of the trophies still on the table, it is on these smallest of margins that the biggest games will be decided.