Rampant Man City ready to march on Feyenoord | The Daily Star
05:32 PM, September 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:40 PM, September 12, 2017

Rampant Man City ready to march on Feyenoord

Champions League to test Liverpool's mettle

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.

For all latest news, follow The Daily Star's Google News channel.

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."

Champions League to test Klopp’s progress at Liverpool

When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, he made a promise: "If we sit here in four years, I think we (will) win one title," he said.

Next month will mark the second anniversary of Klopp's appointment, the halfway point of that four-year cycle.

There has undoubtedly been progress in that time; a team who were 10th in the Premier League when he arrived finished fourth last season.

Whether they are significantly closer to winning a major trophy is more open to debate.

Liverpool reached two finals in Klopp's first seven months as manager, losing on penalties to Manchester City in the League Cup at Wembley, and suffering a more decisive 3-1 defeat by Sevilla in the Europa League in Basel.

That European adventure was an unexpected bonus.

Expectations at Anfield are higher now, but Liverpool look far from a complete team as they prepare to face Sevilla once more, this time in the Champions League.

The best and worst of the 2017 Liverpool were shown when they beat Hoffenheim in last month's play-off to reach the Champions League group stage.

Klopp's side showed an attacking verve that could threaten the best in Europe.

Close-season signing Mohamed Salah has formed a quick understanding with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Salah and Firmino both scored in the home leg, while Mane was heavily involved in two of the goals.

It is a wealth of attacking talent, and they still have Philippe Coutinho to come back following his failed attempt to engineer a move to Barcelona.

Defensively, though, Liverpool were weak in both legs against Hoffenheim; they could easily have conceded more than three goals in the tie.

Liverpool were defensively suspect last season, and those difficulties have continued into the new campaign.

- 'Like a wounded animal' -

Klopp signed Loris Karius from Mainz to be his first-choice goalkeeper, then dropped him midway through last season.

Ragnar Klavan, another Klopp buy, from Augsburg, replaced Lovren for last Saturday's 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City.

However, the extent of the defeat should be put into the context that they had matched City and were trailing 1-0 when Mane was sent off.

"We have to take the first 20 minutes of Saturday's game, and how we played before the international break, and take it into the next game," said goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

"Of course, we can't neglect the performance after that, but we have another game in midweek when we can prove ourselves."

At times, it feels as if Klopp has spent two years, and a lot of money, recreating the Liverpool team who almost won the Premier League under Rodgers four seasons ago.

They are thrilling going forward, an accident waiting to happen defensively. The question is whether Sevilla are ready to punish them.

Much has changed at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium since Unai Emery guided them to a third successive Europa League title with victory over Liverpool two seasons ago.

Emery went to Paris Saint-Germain, and his successor Jorge Sampaoli left at the end of last season for the Argentina job.

Eduardo Berizzo arrived in May from Celta Vigo and has spent heavily, bringing in Colombian forward Luis Muriel from Sampdoria and Nolito from Manchester City to supplement last season's top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder.

Midfielder Ever Benega has returned from Inter Milan, with departing centre-back Adil Rami replaced by Dane Simon Kjaer.

The creativity of Pablo Sarabia and Joaquin Correa remained, helping Sevilla make a strong start in La Liga, garnering seven points from three matches.

Berizzo, though, is wary.

"Liverpool are a great team and Saturday's defeat doesn't take anything away from them," he said. "Moreover, they'll be like a wounded animal."

Related Topics

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222


Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top