THE HAGUE: 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.
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 has 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.”