LONDON • Manchester City's Pep Guardiola will be looking for a response from his team after their shock midweek home defeat by Lyon in the Champions League as he returns to the touchline for today's visit to Cardiff City.
The City manager, who had to serve a one-match suspension after his red card during last season's quarter-final loss to Liverpool in the same competition, watched in horror from the stands, with the English champions not at the races against the French Ligue 1 side.
But at his pre-match press conference yesterday ahead of the Cardiff game, Guardiola refused to lay the blame for City's 2-1 loss to Lyon, which has thrown Group F wide open, at the feet of his players.
Brazil midfielder Fernandinho was at fault in the build-up to both goals on Wednesday and he was contrite in the aftermath of the loss.
"The players don't have to apologise," Guardiola said.
"They tried to make a comeback. They put everything in. The ban, I have to accept it. Hopefully, next time I can be there."
After accumulating 100 points in the Premier League last season, the club's Abu Dhabi owners have set two goals this term - retaining their league title for the first time and winning their first Champions League trophy.
LET'S DO BETTER NEXT TIME
The players don't have to apologise. They tried to make a comeback. They put everything in. The ban, I have to accept it. Hopefully, next time I can be there.
PEP GUARDIOLA, Man City manager, on losing their Champions League opener while he watched from the stands.
Yet, an unexpected defeat to begin their European term exposed City's failure to add reinforcements in central midfield, arguably the only area of the pitch where they lack genuine strength in depth.
Guardiola might be tempted to rest Fernandinho for the trip to Wales, with the 33-year-old having played every minute of City's seven games this season.
But one player City simply cannot afford to give a break to is Sergio Aguero, whose importance at the club was highlighted by yesterday's announcement that the 30-year-old striker had signed a one-year deal extension that will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2021.
And Guardiola expressed his delight that his marksman, City's record goalscorer on 204, had committed his future. "I really appreciate it a lot," he said. "I am so happy he has signed a new contract and can stay 10 years at the club."
The sentiment from Aguero was similar. "I've been here for seven years, it's going to be 10 when the contract expires. I'm very happy because they have treated me very well since the first day I got here."
Guardiola confirmed that defender Benjamin Mendy, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, remains on the sidelines and will not be available against the Bluebirds.
"I don't know (how long he will be out)," he added, only revealing that the issue had to do with his fifth metatarsal. "He has a problem in his bone."
The Spaniard also touched on the form of Riyad Mahrez, who has started just two league games and not yet completed a full 90 minutes, insisting that the £60 million (S$108 million) summer signing will prove to be a long-term success despite failing to impress.
"Riyad is going to come back to the same form we saw when he was with Leicester," he added, citing Bernardo Silva's fine start to the campaign after taking a year to bed into City's system.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
CARDIFF V MAN CITY
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