Feyenoord v Manchester City - Match Preview
Feyenoord v Manchester City- 7.45pm Weds 13th Sept - UEFA Champions League Group Stage
City`s Champions League campaign commences with an away (no surprise there) fixture against the current Dutch champions, Feyenoord.
Managed by ex-Rangers, Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Giovanni van Bronckhurst, 'De Trots van Zuid' (The Pride of the South) are also known as the People`s Club (now, where have we heard that before?….. Founded in 1908 they are one of the most successful clubs in the Netherlands winning 15 domestic league titles, 12 Dutch Cups & 2 UEFA Cups to their credit.
Feyenoord won the Eredivisie last season - their first title for 18 years - ahead of their arch-rivals Ajax with a 6 point margin and a goal difference of +61. They are making their first appearance in European Football`s premier competition in fifteen years and will be looking to build on the confidence of a good start of their domestic title defence. Undefeated in the Eredivisie so far this season having won all four games Feyenoord have found the net 12 times in the league so far, 9 of those goals coming in their last 2 matches. They have only lost 4 out their last 38 Eredvisie matches and clearly will present a stern test for Pep Guardiola`s side.
City enter their sixth successive Champions League campaign having progressed to the round of sixteen or beyond in each of the last four. Our overall record against Dutch opposition stands at W2 D2 L1 with the last fixture against a Dutch side being a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Ajax in October 2012 in the club`s inaugural season in the competition.
Having ruthlessly despatched the English version of The People`s Champions at the weekend the City squad will come into the game full of confidence. Whilst this must be tempered with an appropriate degree of caution of course the fact that their opponents will be out to impress the home fans on their return to the Champions League after such a long absence may be a blessing in disguise. The majority of the 51,000+ crowd at the De Kuip stadium will undoubtedly be raucous, loud and urging their side forward in this long awaited return to the top table of European football - something which may be more helpful to City than were this opening Group Stage match being held at the Etihad where they may adopt a more conservative approach.
Pep Guardiola knows that having had a full season at the club and been backed in the acquisition of some significant signings in the last transfer window, progressing to the knock out stage of the competition is the barest minimum required by the club`s senior management. Indeed, getting to the quarter finals or beyond are perhaps more likely targets listed on his annual appraisal. The squad is now becoming his own, the legacy of his predecessor diminishing as the weeks pass and so the responsibility for success or otherwise becomes less and less down to what 'inherited` and more down to how he is moulding them.
Ederson may miss out after his nasty collision with the right boot of Sadio Mané at the weekend - we await updates from Pep. Whatever else may emerge from that incident - aside from the utterly bizarre 'debate` as to whether the challenge merited a red card - the young Brazilian has endeared himself to Blues fans for his bravery. He did not flinch in challenging for that ball and has already demonstrated enough shot stopping skills and distribution ability to make City fans believed that we may finally have found "The One`. Danilo continues to impress - his versatility clearly making him a dream for Pep - and Mendy is in grave danger of becoming a City legend in his first season. His lightning fast quality crossing of the ball is a joy to behold and will be loved by City`s forward line.
Aside from Kompany`s continued absence the big decision is whether Pep will play one striker or two. You would get short odds from me that should he opt to start with only Jesus the media hacks will once again wheel out their utterly tiresome "Aguero benched AGAIN" headlines and bang on ad nauseam about Aguero being 'unhappy` and 'I can`t understand why he would do that to such a lethal striker`…..whilst ignoring Jesus`s record so far in a sky blue shirt and his legitimate claims to a starting berth. We will see. Of course Aguero deserves a start also and will have endeared himself no end to his coach last Saturday with his unselfish pass to set up Jesus for his second goal when he could as easily have taken it on himself. That is the sort of team ethic which Pep loves and what most 'pundits` seem to fail to appreciate is that by making that pass instead of what they might have expected him to do (take on the keeper himself) he will have now sewn seeds of doubt in the minds of opposing defences and managers as well as cementing his relationship with his strike partner. But I think Pep may opt for a single striker from the start and reserve Sergio for later in the game when legs are tiring and this is reflected in my potential starting XI.
This is a big season for Pep Guardiola at the helm of Manchester City FC and there could be no better way to follow up the demolition of Klopp`s Heroes with a solid away victory on Wednesday.
Come on City!!!
Opponents to watch
Jens Toornstra - arguably Feyenoord`s most important player. An attacking central midfielder he has a good range of passing, can switch the play and is comfortable bringing the ball out at his feet.
Match Officials (Polish)
Referee - Szymon Marciniak
Assistants - P Sokolnicki; T Listkiewicz
Fourth Official - R Siejka
Addition Assistant Referees (with the Harry Potter wands) - P Raczkowski; T Musial
Feyenoord (Eredivisie 2017/18)
Goals per game - 3
Avg Possesion - 59.1%
Pass Accuracy - 84.9%
Shots per game - 15.3
Discipline - 6Y, 0R
City (Premier League 2017/18)
Goals per game - 2.3
Avg Possesion - 64.6%
Pass Accuracy - 87.7%
Shots per game - 16.3
Discipline - 9Y, 2R
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored.com
City will once again be without their club captain Vincent Kompany whose calf injury collected in Belgium`s 9-0 victory over Gibraltar will have frustrated Pep Guardiola no end. Gundogan is off the injured list but is unlikely to start lacking match fitness and there remains a doubt over Ederson as a result of his vicious assault on Sadio Mané`s right boot at the weekend.
Feyenoord will be missing goalkeeper Vermeer, centre back van Beek and full back Nieuwkoop. Right winger Bilal Basacikoglu may be available after a fitness test. Their Danish striker Nicolai Jørgensen will also be absent having collected a hamstring injury at the weekend.
Potential starting XI, subs & formation
Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D
Silva B, G Jesus, Sané
Muric, Mangala, Danilo, Toure, Gundogan, Sterling, Aguero