Guardiola: ‘I have a lot of respect for Feyenoord’

When Manchester City coach Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola was asked on Wednesday evening whether he would be resting players against Feyenoord like his Manchester United counterpart did last season he burst into laughter. ‘We are Manchester City. We still have to earn the respect of Europe; for that we’ll have to play with a strong team. Feyenoord have more European titles than Manchester City,’ said the Spaniard, showing he could put the match into a wider historical context.

It was difficult for Guardiola to deny that his club’s budget is a much higher than Feyenoord’s. ‘But I’m not going to say that we are better than Feyenoord. Because I have respect for all opponents, so for Feyenoord too. Also at my earlier clubs I have noticed that every away match in the Champions League is tough. If the referee blows the whistle for the first time at quarter to nine tomorrow we’ll see which team is better at that moment.’

Guardiola, who won the Champions League with FC Barcelona twice, has studied Feyenoord in depth. ‘I know that Feyenoord had not been champions for a long time until last season and I know how important participating in the Champions League is for this club. I have already seen a lot of Feyenoord matches. They play in the Dutch way, the way of football I grew up with as a young boy. With a good build-up and wingers, it’s a typical Dutch team.’

The Manchester City coach also said a few words about De Kuip, the stadium where his team will play on Wednesday evening. ‘Ronald Koeman told me that the atmosphere in this stadium is incomparable to the atmosphere in other stadiums. That will make it tough for us, but I’m looking forward to starting the Champions League here in Rotterdam. We have fought hard to get here; now we have to show that on the pitch.’

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