The Hague (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City will be keen to keep the momentum going as they open the hunt for Champions League glory against a diminished Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
After mauling Liverpool 5-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, City now travel to face the Dutch champions — who face a daunting prospect after a 15-year absence from the group stage of the competition.
Eyes in particular will be on City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, whose sublime form played a major part in the Liverpool drubbing and who is sure to sniff out and exploit weaknesses in Feyenoord’s midfield and defence.
Feyenoord may have beaten Heracles 4-2 in a Dutch top-flight match over the weekend, but their opponents came dangerously close to scoring more goals — a fact no doubt that will play on coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s mind.
The Rotterdam club faced a further blow up front after leading striker Nicolai Jorgensen came off with a leg muscle injury 21 minutes into the Heracles game.
The 26-year-old Danish international — last year’s Eredivisie top scorer with 21 goals in 32 games — will not play in the City match which opens their Group F campaign, Feyenoord announced on Monday.
– ‘Physical quality’ –
With Jorgensen out, former Dutch skipper and Arsenal midfielder Van Bronckhorst will now have to draw on every ounce of Premier League experience if he is to try and outfox Guardiola’s team.
City have spent more than £200 million ($264 million, 219 million euros) over the summer strengthening their squad after losing to Monaco in the last 16 last season.
De Bruyne told British media on Monday: “The guys who have come in have a very physical quality, they are very strong, very pacy. They make the pitch big, that is a quality of them and it is difficult for the other teams.”
Meanwhile, Feyenoord winger Steven Berghuis said he expected it to be a tough night for the hosts, European Cup winners in 1970.
“It’s going to be tough to stay standing against this club (Manchester City),” Berghuis told daily tabloid De Telegraaf.
“The only thing we can do is to try to make them pay a price and play a game with lots of energy.”
The odds overwhelmingly favour a City win, although the last time they visited Dutch soil they lost 3-1 to Ajax in the group stage in 2012.
The match will be played at the daunting De Kuip (The Tub) stadium in front of thousands of fanatical Feyenoord fans called “The Legion”.
Some hardcore Feyenoord supporters have built up a reputation as troublemakers, getting involved in skirmishes with the law and fans of other clubs.
In February 2015, drunken Feyenoord fans trashed Rome’s famous Piazza di Spagna ahead of a Europa League clash.
Earlier this year, police arrested dozens of Feyenoord supporters who rioted after losing to local club Excelsior, preventing them from become Dutch champions on the day.
Although no trouble is expected on Wednesday, Rotterdam police said they “will be ready to deal with various situations, should it be needed.”
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Our 6 way-too-early reactions to 2022/23 Premier League season
- Van Dijk says Nunez must ‘control himself’ after Liverpool red card
- Man City complete signing of Spanish defender Gomez
- International efforts needed to understand sport’s dementia risk: report
- ‘Very special’: English teenager Bynoe-Gittens extends Dortmund deal
- Where to find Rangers vs. PSV Eindhoven on US TV
- Where to find LAFC vs. DC United on US TV
- Where to find PSG vs. Manchester United on US TV
- Where to find Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona on US TV
- Vlahovic double sinks Sassuolo, Osimhen abused in Verona rout