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Champions League: Manchester City are one step away from stardom

FOOTBALL By Reuters | May 27th 2021
Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Everton - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - May 23, 2021. Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their first goal with Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden. [Pool via REUTERS/Dave Thompson]

Club captain Fernandinho believes Manchester City have hit heights they have never reached before on their journey to the Champions League final.

The Brazilian feels City, who take on Chelsea for European club football’s biggest prize in Porto on Saturday, have finally come of age in Europe after years of frustration.

This has been City’s 10th successive Champions League campaign but, despite considerable domestic dominance, only once previously had they even reached the last four, in 2016.

Fernandinho has been with City every step of the way since 2013 but his own personal quest dates back even further, to his debut in the elite competition with Shakhtar Donetsk in 2006.

The 36-year-old said: “There was still that stigma that the team had never made it to the final, that we were inexperienced in this competition, but I think this season our team has managed to reach a high standard, both on a technical level and in terms of experience, and in several other factors as well.

Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Everton - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - May 23, 2021. Manchester City's Fernandinho lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Premier League. [Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell]

“Over the course of the season, we’ve overcome many difficulties, and now we’ve reached a standard which is perhaps one of the highest this team has ever managed to reach, especially under Pep’s (Guardiola’s) management.”

“There’s no doubt that it’s a special feeling. For me personally, having been playing in Europe for a while now, I’ve had a chance to play in many Champions League seasons and I’d only got as far as the semis with City, the quarters with Shakhtar, I’d never made the final, so it’s really satisfying.”

City also go into the game on a high after winning the Premier League in convincing style. With the Carabao Cup collected last month, it has already been a memorable season but Fernandinho says there can be no easing up now.

“We’ve always got to give 100 per cent of the time, and I think in a game like this, anything less than 200 per cent won’t be enough.”

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