City ready to dethrone Euro kings and finally become top dogs, says Silva

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BERNARDO SILVA says Manchester City are ready to dethrone the ‘kings’ of European football.

Pep Guardiola’s men go up against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Etihad tonight.

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Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez share a joke at training ahead of Man City’s massive clash with Real MadridCredit: AFP

The Spanish giants have been crowned champions of Europe 13 times, while City are still looking to get their hands on Ol’ Big Ears for the first time.

But it was the English side who came out on top when they met two years ago in the tournament’s last 16.

And Portuguese midfield star Bernardo believes reaching the final last year has helped City to grow as a European force — even though they were beaten by Prem rivals Chelsea.

Silva said: “We saw the games Real played against PSG and Chelsea, so if they are able to beat both of those teams it means they are one of the best sides in the world.

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“We are going to have to fight to beat them. But there is no fear.

“We beat them two seasons ago in the last 16 and we will try to win again.

“We know they are the kings of the Champions League.

“But we want to be kings — and we believe in our team.

“You learn with the mistakes, you learn with the experiences. And it was still a very good experience for us in the Champions League last season.

“Unfortunately, the final did not go the way we expected.

“But we will try to get there again this season — and this time win it.”

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If City are to get past Madrid again they will have to find a way to stop 34-year-old Karim Benzema.

The veteran French forward scored hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the previous two rounds and now has his sights set on adding City’s scalp to his collection.

But Bernardo believes the return of fellow Portuguese Ruben Dias is a timely boost for the Premier League leaders.

The centre-back, 24, is back in the side after being out since March 1 with a hamstring injury.

Bernardo told Arab News: “Karim has been having a great season and he’s a great player.

“We are used to it, used to playing against the best — and I think that our defenders will do the job.

“We saw the impact Ruben had last season, how important he is for us.

“His leadership, the concentration, the ambition, the focus.

“Overall, in my opinion, he’s one of the best defenders in the world — if not the best.”

Pep Guardiola with Raheem Sterling in training on Monday

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Pep Guardiola with Raheem Sterling in training on MondayCredit: PA

City are once again locked in a tense battle with Liverpool for the Prem title, with only one point separating them with five games left.

And the bookies are also expecting the North West rivals to meet in the Champions League final in Paris next month.

Bernardo added: “We have had this fight with them for the past five seasons but we still have a big gap to fill — that is the Champions League.

“Liverpool are an amazing team and we will try to beat them. When you play against the best teams you fight and you have to be so good. If they are good, you have to be better.

“We are still top of the league, just one point ahead and we cannot slip.

“We are going to be there, we are going to fight in all of the games.”

The former Monaco man looked bound for the Etihad exit last summer, as he wanted to play somewhere closer to his native Portugal.

But a suitable offer did not come in for a player City paid £43million for in 2017 — and fans are grateful he stayed as he has once again been in superb form.

Bernardo himself has no regrets at how things worked out, believing there is no better place to be right now.

I look around the world and I don’t see a better project than the one here at Manchester City.

Bernardo Silva

The 27-year-old said: “We will see what happens in the future­ but I am very happy right now.

“I look around the world and I don’t see a better project than the one here at Manchester City.

“In terms of winning titles, in terms of the ambition this club has for the future, it’s probably the best in the world.

“I’ve never experienced anything like what we have with this team.

“I’ve won ten trophies since I came almost five years ago now.

“That means, even after a season where you win a lot, you are still hungry for more and you want to win again.

“We are still really hungry and we want to beat Liverpool to the Premier League, we want to try to reach the final of the Champions League — and go after our dream of winning it. I like this pressure.”



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