| BERGKAMP: Ready to fire against PSV Eindhoven
London: Call it the Bergkamp effect.
Dennis Bergkamp lines up for Arsenal in the Premier League — and the Gunners win last year’s title without losing a game away from home.
But the Dutch striker stays home because of his fear of flying — and Arsenal can’t win on the road in the Champions League, losing five out of six away games to go out.
If Bergkamp is the missing link the Gunners have been looking for in Europe, Wednesday’s game at PSV Eindhoven might provide the proof.
With the chance to travel to his native country by sea and road, the former Ajax Amsterdam star is headed for Eindhoven with the Gunners hopeful of adding to last week’s impressive 2-0 victory over German champion Borussia Dortmund.
“If he travels by car, it’s not a big handicap, nor would it be a policy for the rest of the competition,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We’ll take it game by game. He always looks really determined not to fly and it’s something I had never had an experience of with any player. I have given up trying to persuade him.”
But Wenger is not sure that Bergkamp’s absence is the answer to his team’s poor performances whenever the Gunners leave England.
“I do not think there is any psychological restriction on the team or the players because of what has happened before,” he said. “You say that we have had a bad away record but this is the team who have gone to so many domestic matches without losing away.”
Eindhoven gained a point from its 0-0 tie last week with French club Auxerre, which goes to Dortmund Wednesday. The German champion should have top scorer Marcio Amoroso back, but Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky is still missing with back trouble.
It looks like World Cup star Ronaldo will not make his Real Madrid debut after all in Wednesday’s game against Belgian side Racing Genk.
The nine-time champions started with a 3-0 victory at AS Roma last week and, with a 100 per cent record from two Spanish League games, coach Vicente Del Bosque had been expected to at least have Ronaldo on the bench. But the Brazilian striker suffered a slight left ankle injury in training and now appears doubtful.
Ronaldo is yet to play for Madrid since signing from Inter Milan for $44 million at the start of September.
French midfielders Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele, who both missed Madrid’s 4-1 victory over Osasuna saturday, will also be absent Wednesday. Zidane has an inflamed right knee, while Makelele has a strained ligament in left knee.
Roma, who lost at home to Modena on Sunday, hope to bounce back by winning at AEK Athens in the other group C game. Fabio Capello’s team is third from last in Serie A and cannot afford another loss.
Liverpool, a four-time Champions Cup winner back in the 1970s and ’80s is another big club in need of a lift after its 0-2 loss to Valencia last week in group B.
Gerard Houllier’s team was outplayed and needs a confidence-boosting performance against Swiss champion FC Basel, which is coached by former Tottenham manager Christian Gross and shares top place with the Spaniards.
With Michael Owen struggling in front of the goal — he even missed a penalty on Saturday — Houllier has to decide which of his strikers to field against Basel at Anfield.
“I have always supported (Owen) and I always will,” Houllier said. “Ok, things aren’t going the way he wants them to at the moment, but I don’t believe in it being bad luck. “Michael’s all-round game has improved, he’s moving all over the place on the field to create space and he’s working very hard. I am sure that because of the work he is putting in he will eventually get the success he deserves.
“If he had managed to convert most of his chances, he would be the Premiership’s leading scorer now.”
Valencia, runner-up in 2000 and 2001, hope to maintain their good start by winning at Spartak Moscow who lost to Basel.
One of biggest confrontations is Inter Milan against Ajax Amsterdam. Inter won the Champions Cup twice in the mid-60s, while the last of the four titles won by Ajax was in 1995. To add more spice, Inter are tied for the lead in Serie A and Ajax in the Dutch league.
After beating Lyon 2-1, Ajax top group D while Inter want to improve on a tie at Rosenborg. (AP)