Van Wolfswinkel hoping ‘underdogs’ Basel can upset Manchester City in the Champions League
PUBLISHED: 17:55 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:03 12 February 2018
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Ricky van Wolfswinkel is hoping to help Basel pull off a Champions League shock against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
The reigning Swiss champions host the runaway Premier League leaders at St Jakob-Park in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.
After finishing second in Group A to qualify behind Manchester United, at the expense of CSKA Moscow and Benfica, van Wolfswinkel’s team are in high spirits.
The Dutch striker scored eight goals in 11 games after being signed following a successful season at VItesse Arnhem – scoring 20 goals in 32 matches – but fractured his right foot during a 5-0 thrashing of Benfica, in which he had scored.
“I play for a good footballing team and it shows in my goals. I am stronger, more experienced as well,” he said, having returned to fitness in December just before the winter break in Switzerland.
“We are underdogs against City, a lot of people expect them to win the Champions League but there is no pressure on us. We can play with a clear head, a free mind.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he also talked about his time with Norwich – as he has in previous interviews since leaving the Canaries – mentioning the toe injury which disrupted his 2013-14 campaign and Chris Hughton’s decision to adopt a more direct style.
“There was a moment, around November or December, when Chris called me into the office and said: ‘It’s not working out. We need points, so we are going to play a little more direct.’
“Chris is a gentleman. He was honest, so I had to accept it. We played everything to the bigger body, Johan Elmander.
“Every player wants the ball, As a striker, you need the service if you want to score goals. It got hard for me. There were some games where I got very few touches.
“If I’d missed a hundred chances, I’d feel worse about it. But in the end there were no chances.”
The 29-year-old admits he would still like the chance to prove himself in the Premier League, adding: “I didn’t show what I was about in England. There is always a small part of me that wants to show the player I am.”
One of his former Norwich team-mates saw the methods of Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola up close in November, when the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss aggressively confronted Nathan Redmond after his team narrowly beat Southampton 2-1 at the Etihad – allegedly accusing the winger of not playing to his attacking potential in an unusual incident.
“Pep is a passionate man and a player like Redmond is a player from his own heart,” van Wolfswinkel added.
“People might think ‘What is this guy Guardiola doing? Is he crazy?’ Nathan just stayed cool and quiet. He is an amazing player, great personality-wise.
“It’s a massive compliment Pep spoke to him. This is a type of player who will go to a big club and it could be City.”