Mens Team

Guardiola: Fitness and focus key for Mendy

Pep Guardiola has challenged Benjamin Mendy to build on the momentum of his past two games and seek to maintain his fitness and consistency.

The French full-back made an impressive return from injury during last week’s European win at Olympiakos and followed that by registering his first goal for the Club in last Saturday’s 5-0 Premier League win over Burnley.

Addressing the media ahead of our latest Champions League game away to Porto, the City manager declared how important a fit Mendy was to the squad.

But, after an injury ravaged few years at the Club, Guardiola said the challenge now for the 26-year-old was to maintain consistency and momentum

“It’s so important for us (that) he (Mendy) is fit,” the City boss asserted.

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“Scoring goals from Mendy is the last thing I want from him - I want him to defend well, to be be fit and be focused. That’s what I want from him.

“He played two 90 minutes and played quite well. But still, we have to wait. It depends on him if he can maintain regular training and focus.

“If he scores OK, but these are the things I want from him.”

Guardiola isn’t short of alternative options at left back with Portuguese international Joao Cancelo having especially impressed this season in the role during Mendy’s absence  - especially with with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Nathan Ake also being affected by injury

And the manager paid handsome tribute to the contribution of Cancelo so far this term, and said he possessed a ‘unique’ quality.

“Joao made an incredible impact this season,” Guardiola added.

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“Especially many things, like commitment and focus. Still he has to work and concentrate for 90 minutes, but he helped us a lot when Oleks and Ake injured.

“He recovers after games immediately. He has personality. In the final third he has a unique quality… he is like a winger in the final third.

“Like Mendy, he must focus on defending and we work on it since he came in. I have the feeling he is getting better.”

Having already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, City can secure top spot with a fifth straight Group C victory tomorrow evening.

City recorded a 3-1 win over Porto at the Etihad last month in what was a physically demanding affair and the boss said he was anticipating another tough challenge on Tuesday.

“It will be a tough physical game for sure. It was here. They have incredible team spirit and have outstanding physicality,” Guardiola warned

“It will be tough, we know it. It’s the Champions League away.

“Top teams in Portugal have to win every weekend. When you have that mentality in all departments, it makes them so dangerous.

“That’s why we expect a difficult game. We did when they came here and it was. Tomorrow will be too.”

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