Injured midfielders David Silva and Yaya Toure trained with their team-mates on Tuesday (29th September), as Manchester City prepared to face Borussia Monchengladbach in the UEFA Champions League Group D.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had to dash back home after a passport blunder prior to his side’s Champions League trip to Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Chilean arrived at Manchester Airport with the rest of his squad for their flight to Germany yesterday afternoon but was then spotted by photographers leaving in a taxi soon after.
He returned to the airport’s Terminal Three around 35 minutes later, still ahead of the scheduled departure of City’s chartered flight to Dusseldorf, but with rumours abounding about the reason for his temporary disappearance.
The 62-year-old, speaking at his pre-match press conference at Borussia-Park, later laughed off the incident.
Pellegrini said: “It is not important. I have two passports and I brought the wrong passport!”
Pellegrini’s gaffe provided a lighthearted moment ahead of the serious business of getting City’s campaign in Group D up and running. City were beaten in their opener by Juventus a fortnight ago and go into the game in poor form having lost three of their last four in all competitions.
They will be without captain Vincent Kompany, who has failed to recover from the calf injury that has ruled him out for the last three games.
Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony also failed to make the trip, staying at home with other injury victims Eliaquim Mangala, Gael Clichy and Fabian Delph.
City won their first five games of the season without conceding but, in Kompany’s absence, have shipped seven in the last three games. Pellegrini tried to play down the absence of his inspirational skipper, as Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi are again set to be partnered in defence.
He said: “Of course Vincent is a very important player. He is our captain and he has started the season very well but I don’t think one player is so crucial.
Laughter here as Manuel confirms he took the wrong passport to the airport earlier and had to go back for the right one! #bmgvcity
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) September 29, 2015
“We won the last six games of last season without Vincent.” City surrendered a lead to lose to Juve, a result that yet again raised questions about their ability to succeed on the European stage.
The club have high ambitions and have not progressed beyond the last 16 in four previous seasons, but Pellegrini insists progress has been made.
He said: “I don’t think we have failed in Europe. In the last two years we have qualified for the next stage and then we lost against the best team in the world, Barcelona.
“We qualified in second place, we have beaten Bayern Munich twice. “Last year (we) were in a complicated situation and we won our last two games.
“So we know how to do it. We just lost a game against Juventus, which was a strange game.
“Now we are trying in the next five games to qualify for the next stage of Europe.” Pellegrini shared pre-match media duties with £54 million (Dh300m) signing Kevin de Bruyne, who has made a fine start to his City career and has now announced that he is to become a father with girlfriend Michelle Lacroix.
The 24-year-old said: “It gives me a good feeling. I am really excited about it. I don’t know if it is reflected in the way I am playing but my family and my girlfriend are looking forward to it.” De Bruyne has scored in each of his last three appearances.
The Belgian, back in Germany just a month after leaving Wolfsburg, said: “It is nice to score goals but I prefer to win to be honest. We need to get the results and then we will wait and see what happens in the other games.”
Given their knowledge of the Belgian, it’s no surprise Monchengladbach will look to starve the Belgian of space.
Coach Andre Schubert said: “The player who is marking a specific zone that Kevin De Bruyne goes into it is responsible for him. “There are other great players at City . If one player is beaten, we will have another one to back him up.”
Nacho Fernandez is eager to seize a rare chance to impress for Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Malmo.
The versatile defender, 25, has only started five previous games in the competition but will be given a chance tonight in Sweden with Pepe and Sergio Ramos both ruled out by injury.
And with Sunday’s league derby date at Atletico Madrid rapidly approaching, a good performance tonight would help soothe nerves over his ability to face Los Rojiblancos if necessary.
Nacho has become a utility man since graduating from the club’s youth system, appearing in both full-back positions and in central defence when the need has arisen.
He said: “I am prepared for what the coach wants, and I take advantage of all of the opportunities that he gives me.
“Maybe it’s not the ideal role, but I always do the best that I can. Against Malmo I want to deliver a good performance, win the game and leave with a clean sheet.”
Manager Rafa Benitez, meanwhile, has called upon his players to spread their goals across the squad to relieve the burden on Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Benitez said: “It’s only a matter of time until we score – Cristiano is a guarantee of goals. But we have to increase our accuracy and raise the numbers of Isco, Jese and the other players in the second line, and so we don’t depend so much on Cristiano or Benzema.”
Benitez is likely to rotate his squad tonight, with Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic likely to start in midfield.