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Fernandinho: City the best we’ve ever been

Fernandinho: City the best we’ve ever been
City are better equipped for the Champions League final than ever before, according to Fernandinho.

This Saturday’s clash not only represents our maiden Champions League showpiece but also our first European final in 51 years.

Victory over Chelsea would secure a phenomenal treble, with Pep Guardiola’s men already claiming the Carabao Cup and Premier League title.

Our skipper believes City have made a major statement in reaching this stage of the Champions League and that the standards we have set surpass anything previously achieved.

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“There was still that stigma of the fact that the team had never made it to the final before, that we were an inexperienced team in this competition,” he reflected.

“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 several other factors as well.

“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.

"It’s a really happy moment, a huge honour, and there’s no doubt that it makes you even more motivated.

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

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Things have not always gone according to plan for Pep Guardiola’s men in our European campaign, but our ability to remain focused and fight until the end have been evident across the entire season.

City trailed at key stages in both our quarter-final and semi-final triumphs over Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, but fought back on both occasions to deservedly progress.

It was a similar story in our first match of the campaign, with FC Porto taking an early lead at the Etihad Stadium before we eventually ran out as 3-1 winners.

That initial comeback, according to Fernandinho, set a precedent for the squad and demonstrated that City were confident in finding a solution when the chips were down.

“It was a really tough game, really challenging,” the Brazilian revealed about our opening match day win against FC Porto.

“But our team figured out a way around this, by playing good football, showing maturity, getting out of a situation that wasn’t in our favour.

“I think it ended up creating a path on which we knew that: ‘Hold on, if we carry on this way we’re in with a chance’.

“We went into the half-time break losing 1-0 (against Dortmund), and at that point there’s no doubt things were rushing through our minds.

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“Many things can happen in football, but fortunately, the team had the peace of mind and maturity to do what we had to do, and managed to turn the situation and score-line around.

“There’s no doubt that these things make you believe, give you a confidence boost, then you try something on the pitch, and it goes well, so things end up flowing in a more natural way.

“The team knew how to react well, and I think this shows how mature the team is in comparison to previous seasons in which we wouldn’t have been able to turn the situation around.”

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Ilkay Gundogan recently described Fernandinho’s importance to the rest of the squad as ‘immense’.

Given the experience and consistency that the 36-year-old provides at the base of our midfield whenever called upon, that praise comes as no surprise.

The Brazilian’s importance was evident in the second leg of our semi-final with PSG when tensions were high in a full-blooded second half at the Etihad Stadium.

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“It’s a matter of reading the game and understanding what’s going on in that moment,” Fernandinho reflected on his vital role in ensuring the team retained focus.

“There’s no doubt that as I’m a captain and the most senior of the club’s players, this is the point when you need to step up and try to organise things for the good of the team.

“Sometimes it’s easy for a person to lose their head when under a lot of stress or pressure, so I tried to stop players from falling into this trap so to not harm the team’s performance.

“Playing in a game at this level with a player like this makes a big difference.”

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