Man City prepare for friendly against Hamburg in Al Ain

Man City prepare for friendly against Hamburg in Al Ain
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Published January 21st, 2015 - 07:58 GMT via

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City prepare for 'very critical’ friendly
City prepare for 'very critical’ friendly

Manchester City players exuded a grim determination on Tuesday, making it abundantly clear that they will not be treating their UAE training stint and Wednesday’s friendly with Hamburg in Al Ain lightly.

Midfielder Fernandinho went as far to say that the clash was ‘very critical’ for the defending English Premier League champions as they strive to recapture their best form ahead of a crucial trip to league leaders Chelsea a week on Saturday.

Captain Vincent Kompany, concurred, saying of City’s five-day training camp: “It’s massively important. You get so much out of it. It’s an 11-month season sometimes, so this gives us time to be out of it for a bit and for team spirit it’s good as well.”

Manager Manuel Pellegrini added: “It’s just a short break, but I think it’s very useful for the rest of the season.”

What might have been a relaxing warm-weather break for City has been anything but then, as Pellegrini’s men regrouped after Sunday’s dispiriting 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal in rare windy and rainy conditions in the UAE capital.

This left the Blues trailing Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea juggernaut by five points in the league and Fernandinho expressed their eagerness to rebound against Hamburg and then at home to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

Reflecting their business-like mood, there were few smiles from the Brazilian and his chastened teammates at their Ritz Carlton hotel base on Tuesday and when they later held a training session at Al Jazira’s Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium.

Pellegrini’s star-studded outfit must have been shocked to have arrived here to weather more redolent of autumn in the UK, as they followed their women’s side and sister club Melbourne City FC onto the pitch.

However, their spirits will have been lifted by the warm welcome they received from the hardy few hundred supporters who roared their approval as their heroes entered the windswept arena. Of Wednesday’s game, which kicks off at 7.30pm at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Fernandinho said: “It’s definitely a very important and very critical game for us. I just hope we don’t pick up any injuries as we need every single player to be fit in order to be successful.”

The Brazilian acknowledged that Hamburg would present a ‘different’ test to what City are used to in the EPL and reserved particular praise for the German side’s talismanic midfielder, Rafael van der Vaart.

“They are a very good team and have Van der Vaart,” he said of the former Real Madrid, Tottenham and Netherlands playmaker. “He’s played in extremely important teams and contributed greatly.”

For striker Sergio Aguero, Wednesday’s friendly represents another prime chance to sharpen his fitness following a recent return from a knee injury. He said: “This match is very good for me as it will help me get back to my playing rhythm, if I

am asked to play. I hope my body will work well, but playing on Wednesday is not in my hands.”

Midfielder Frank Lampard echoed the delight of his teammates about coming back to the home of the club’s Abu Dhabi owners.

But he would not be drawn on how he will feel about returning to the club which he left last summer, Chelsea, after an illustrious 13-year career in London.

Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals looked upset when he said of the forthcoming EPL encounter: “I’m going to talk about that another time.”


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