Bernardo Silva has issued a serious warning to his Manchester City teammates to ignore their status as favourites for the Champions League, citing the example of how Juventus were knocked out by Lyon, City’s quarter-final opponents on Saturday, in the previous round.
Pep Guardiola’s side took out Real Madrid, the record 13-time winners, from the last 16 last Friday, while on the same evening the challenge of twice-holders Juventus was terminated by the French Ligue 1 team.
Like City, Ligue 1 team Lyon have never been European champions. And despite title holders, Liverpool, having been taken out of the equation, Silva is prudently cautious of his team being overconfident when they meet in Lisbon for a revised format, straight knockout tie.
Regarding City’s tag of being the favourites, the Portuguese said:
“Anything can happen – Juventus were knocked out by Lyon. We have seen lots of surprises in the competition over the last years. We lost against Tottenham last year in the quarter finals. It’s very difficult to predict the games and the results in this competition.
“The fact that Liverpool are out, Real Madrid are out: it’s not going to make our path easier. That would be a wrong thought. We need to go game by game, be very focused, knowing that every game is going to be tough. All the teams in Lisbon are here because they deserve it. We need to be at our best level to win the games and try to reach the final.”
Silva for one has insider knowledge of Lyon, having been at Monaco for three years.
“I played many times against them,” the 26-year-old said. “Also here at Manchester City we faced them last season and it wasn’t easy. We didn’t manage to beat them in either of the two [group] games. That shows how difficult a team they are. Not only Lyon, but all the French teams are very physical, very strong and in just one game it’s unpredictable.
“It’s going to be very difficult. We are going to try to prepare ourselves the best way we can, but we know it’s not going to be easy. They knocked Juventus out of the competition and it’s not going to be an easy task for us. It’s going to be a completely different game than Real Madrid, because they both play different ways and with a different style of players.”
“Manchester City has never won this competition [and] most of our players haven’t won it yet, including me,” Silva said.
“Of course, winning this competition has always been a target for the players and club. It will be very special to win it. For me, even more so because it’s my city and it’s an extra motivation to fight for the trophy here,” the Lisbon-born midfielder said.
“It would definitely be special to win the Champions League in Lisbon.
“We play every competition to win, we try to give our best in every competition. This one is the only one we haven’t won at City, so there is extra motivation to give our best and try to go as far as possible. It’s a goal for the club, the fans, the staff, everyone. If we could do it this year, it would be a proud moment and we would include our names in the history of the club.”