Pep Guardiola looks to open European campaign with a win in Holland
Manchester City open their Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with an away day against Dutch side Feyenoord, with the English side overwhelming favourites to start with victory.
Pep Guardiola’s men have started the new season in impressive form and the former Barcelona boss will be motivated to win major silverware in 2017-18.
City have taken ten points from a possible 12 in the Premier League so far this season, with punters using bet365 online betting starting to wager that the Etihad Stadium outfit will become English champions come next May.
However, it will be in the Champions League that the club’s credentials will be thoroughly tested, with the European trophy the biggest crown for Guardiola’s men to fight for.
While the Catalan coach won the continental competition twice with Barcelona, it escaped him in the three years he managed Bayern Munich.
City may have won the Premier League twice in recent years, but success in the Champions League has not looked like a realistic proposition.
The likes of Monaco, Bayern and Barcelona have eliminated the Manchester club in recent times and beating Europe’s top teams has looked one step too far.
However, given the amount of expenditure on new players over the summer and the star-studded squad at Guardiola’s disposal, anything other than ultimate success is now not acceptable.
The draw has been kind to City, with Feyenoord joined by Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group F.
While all three are able sides, the Etihad Stadium side will surely have too much quality for the other teams in the pool and are favourites with the bookmakers at odds of 4/6 to win the group.
Feyenoord have returned to Europe’s top tournament and boast a squad loaded with prodigious talent.
The likes of Nikolai Jorgensen, Tonny de Vilhena and Jean Paul Boetius look set to have bright futures in the game - but they will face a City side loaded with international stars.
Odds of 4/11 make the visitors firm favourites to start the campaign with three points, despite the English side surely being set to face a hostile reception in Rotterdam.
City have made light work of groups in recent years but ultimately come unstuck when a knockout tie against one of the continent’s top teams has rolled around.
For Guardiola to take the club to the next level and put forward a realistic challenge to become European champions, building momentum and showing a clinical edge in club football’s top tournament is necessary - starting on Wednesday night at the De Kuip Stadion.