Guardiola praises 'extraordinary' Rodri and Alvarez after Man City's win over Red Star

However, the City manager shared his concern at his squad's growing injury list following the 3-1 Champions League victory at the Etihad

Rodri scored Manchester City's third goal as part of a superb all-round display in the 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade. PA
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Pep Guardiola described Rodri as the best holding midfielder in the world and Julian Alvarez as an "incredible threat" after their starring roles in Manchester City's comeback win over Red Star Belgrade, although the Spaniard admitted he is concerned about his squad's growing injury list.

City opened their Champions League defence with a 3-1 victory at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, but they needed to fight back from a goal down following Osman Bukari's finish on the stroke of half time.

However, Alvarez struck moments after the break to level and the Argentine forward gave City the lead on the hour mark. Spanish midfielder Rodri then scored his third goal of the season in the 73rd minute to secure all three points for City.

Rodri was named player of the match for another commanding performance in central midfield, and Guardiola believes the Spain international has no equal in his position.

“Right now, yeah, he is the best,” the City manager said. “Hopefully he can be better and improve but he is an extraordinary holding midfielder.

“We were lucky the club signed this player and when he arrived he was not this type of player. Of course, he plays an amount of games and now he is one of the captains. He is a top-class player.

“The goal is top class but defensively, offensively he reads the play and spaces and knows exactly where men are free.

“Close to the box he is so dangerous. He loves to arrive in the final third and dribble and shoot. He is playing really, really well.”

Guardiola also reserved special praise for Alvarez after the 23-year-old forward's latest influential contribution.

Alvarez, a World Cup winner with Argentina, impressed during the treble-winning campaign but was used primarily as an impact sub. However, he has emerged as a key player so far this season with eight goal contributions – five goals and three assists – in all competitions.

“He is so young. What a signing the club have done," Guardiola said. “He has everything – fighting and goals and assists. Incredible, lovely guy.

“Playing behind Erling [Haaland] he is an incredible threat. Really pleased for him, he deserves it.”

It wasn't all good news for City on Tuesday night, though, as Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva was forced off before half time.

City are already without key players Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, Jack Grealish, and Mateo Kovacic due to injury.

"[Silva] didn't say anything at the end," Guardiola said. "I didn't speak with the doctors, but apparently, for the next games, he won't be able to play."

Premier League leaders City next host Nottingham Forest on Saturday, looking to make it six wins from six, but Guardiola is worried about the impact of having so many key players absent at the same time.

"We are in trouble but I am not going to say, 'Oh, we have a lot of injuries'," he said. "When we have five important players – really, really important players – injured, to sustain that for a long time will be difficult. But it is what it is."

Updated: September 25, 2023, 8:49 AM