Football: Man City-Gladbach Champions League game postponed

Manchester City players Raheem Sterling (right) and Leroy Sane (centre) at team training on Sept 12, 2016.
Manchester City players Raheem Sterling (right) and Leroy Sane (centre) at team training on Sept 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach will play their opening Champions League group game on Wednesday (Sept 14) after Tuesday’s match was postponed due to heavy rain at City’s Etihad Stadium.

The two clubs announced that the game would take place at 7.45 pm local time (2.45am on Thursday, Singapore time).

Gladbach wanted the rescheduled game to take place at 6pm local time on Wednesday, but City did not have enough staff members available at that time.

“We asked Uefa and Manchester City to play at six o’clock tomorrow because for sporting reasons we wanted to fly back to Germany (after the game),” Gladbach spokesman Markus Aretz told reporters.

“But City could not make that possible. I don’t know the reasons why.

“We’re not happy with that. I think it’s always a disadvantage when you have to stay one day longer than everything is planned.”

All tickets for the match are still valid, but Gladbach expect that only between 400 and 500 of the estimated 1,600 away fans who travelled to the Etihad on Tuesday will be able to attend.

“With an away team it’s a disadvantage, without fans,” Aretz added.

The game had been due to take place at 1845 GMT on Tuesday, but was called off 20 minutes earlier as a summer thunderstorm battered Manchester.

It rained heavily in the city for several hours prior to the scheduled kick-off time and there was thunder and lightning overhead as fans made their way to the stadium.

A group of Uefa officials carrying blue umbrellas performed a pitch inspection around 45 minutes prior to the scheduled kick-off time.

Manchester City’s goalkeepers Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero had come out to warm up, but were ushered inside.

The rain eased off as kick-off approached and the pitch appeared playable, but City announced at 1825 GMT that the match had been called off “on safety and security grounds”.

Conditions outside the ground were treacherous.

Several hundred visiting Gladbach fans, many of them shirtless, remained in their seating section singing after the postponement was announced.

Gladbach’s players, wearing green and black club tracksuits, came out to salute them before returning to their changing room.

City’s German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan tweeted: “What a pity #MCFCBMG couldn’t take place. We’re all looking forward to get the #UCL started. But it wasn’t meant to be.” Manchester’s Metrolink tram system had to be temporarily suspended due to the rain and photographs circulating on social media showed huge puddles in city centre streets.

In the day’s other Group C game, Barcelona crushed Celtic 7-0.

Both teams are in league action on Saturday, City hosting Bournemouth in the Premier League and Gladbach entertaining Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.