Big spenders City look set to put Feyenoord to the sword

Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo practising his kicking in training. He will stand in for Ederson in their Champions League group tie at Feyenoord today, should the Brazilian custodian not recover in time after being kicked in the face by Liv
Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo practising his kicking in training. He will stand in for Ederson in their Champions League group tie at Feyenoord today, should the Brazilian custodian not recover in time after being kicked in the face by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane on Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

ROTTERDAM • Pep Guardiola's rampant Manchester City will be keen to keep the momentum going as they open the hunt for Champions League glory against Feyenoord in Rotterdam today.

After mauling 10-man 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 competition's group stage.

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 defence.

City have spent more than £200 million (S$356 million) over the summer strengthening their squad after losing to Monaco in the last-16 stage last season, and de Bruyne believes they are much stronger now.

"The guys who have come in have a very physical quality, they are very strong, very pacy," the Belgian said of players like Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Bernardo Silva.

"They make the pitch big, that is a quality of them and it is difficult for the other teams (to counter)."

The odds overwhelmingly favour a City win, although the last time they visited Dutch soil, they lost 1-3 to Ajax in the group stage in 2012.

Feyenoord winger Steven Berghuis also said he expected a difficult night in Group F for the hosts, European Cup winners in 1970.

"It's going to be tough to stay standing against City," Berghuis told Dutch 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."

Feyenoord may have beaten Heracles 4-2 in the Dutch Eredivisie over the weekend, but their opponents came dangerously close to scoring more goals - a fact that no doubt will play on coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst's mind.

They 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, Feyenoord announced on Monday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Big spenders City look set to put Feyenoord to the sword'. Print Edition | Subscribe