Manchester City might have had a rough season domestically, after three consecutive defeats through February and March ended their title challenge and now face a fierce battle to finish in top four.
But that has not deterred them from making substantial progress in Europe as they confirmed their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League, winning 3-2 on aggregate against Paris Saint-Germain.
And now City midfielder Fernandinho has urged supporters of the other English clubs to back the Citizens in the elite European competition.
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The Telegraph quoted the Brazilian saying: “You guys in England should be more supportive of your clubs because the Champions League is great, it involves the best teams in Europe and it is the highest quality of football and if an English team is in the semi-finals they deserve that.”
EXAMPLE OF THE BLUES
He cites the example of Chelsea, who were the last English top flight side to win the tournament back in 2012 and believes City, too, must be instated in the same pedestal.
“I’m sure when Chelsea got to the semi-finals and reached the final they deserve that and now we deserve that.”
Fernandinho is of the opinion that it is the added experience from their Champions League disappointments in previous years that has aided their progress this term.
“Everyone has learned now, especially the manager because I think for me he was one of the best people to learn that, in time, to do the right thing at the right moment.”
“Against PSG we showed a different level from the last five years when we played in the Champions League. We played a very intelligent game, a clever game, especially here at the Etihad.”
CRUCIAL TO BE CALM
The 30-year-old insisted his teammates should remain calm as most of the squad are much less experienced at this phase compared to their counterparts.
“To be honest this is a key moment for everyone at the club. Most of the players have never reached the semi-finals of the Champions League before. It was one of the targets of the club for the last six or seven years.”
Prior to the second-leg tie against PSG, Thiago Silva and manager Laurent Blanc had questioned the quality of English teams, but Fernandinho believes those doubts have now been eradicated.
“I’m sure any of the teams we are going to play against will respect us because if you play in the semi-finals it shows that we have some qualities. The semi-finals of the Champions League is only for the big teams.”
The Brazilian international’s sentiments were echoed by Frenchman Bacary Sagna who considers the victory on Tuesday a statement of intent for the future of the club.
Goal.com quoted Sagna saying: “If anyone wondered which is the best between the French Ligue 1 and the Premier League they will have seen the Premier League is the best.”
“We gave the best answer to anyone who doubts us by qualifying for the semi-final. As a team, we’ve shown we deserve to be one of the best in Europe.”
Manchester City will face Real Madrid in the final four while Atletico Madrid will be up against Bayern Munich later in this month as they aim for European glory at San Siro in May.