After an extraordinary season – one which has seen City regain the Premier League title and win a fourth successive Carabao Cup – a marathon campaign ends with the most prestigious game of the European calendar against our Premier League rivals.
The stakes could not be higher when the sides step out at the Estadio do Dragao seeking to become champions of Europe.
But, speaking at Friday’s pre-match press conference, the Belgian midfielder said rather than being burdened by pressure and expectation, City should seek to enjoy an occasion that will be watched all around the world.
“Obviously, it's been one of the goals of the club and one of the players to be in the Champions League final and perform on the highest stage in the world,” De Bruyne declared.
“It’s a privilege. Everyone understands the pressure. We understand the magnitude of the occasion
“But at least we can enjoy the game. We can take it with a smile, and you want to perform and show your best.”
De Bruyne also offered his own insight into the differences from previous setbacks in Europe that had helped City to secure a first-ever appearance in a Champions League final.
The Belgian specifically pointed to the way the squad had eliminated errors at key junctures in games with Pep Guardiola’s side having conceded just four goals in our 12 games to reach the final
“We made fewer mistakes. The identity of the team is the same but in the different moments we didn't make too many mistakes,” De Bruyne asserted.
“In other years, especially in these types of games, we made one mistake too many against these teams.
“They would go ahead and we couldn't come back.
“This year, every time we were in a bad moment, we didn't concede a goal we would have had in last year’s competition. That’s the difference.”
City’s success this term has been all the more remarkable given the relentless nature of a punishing schedule that has seen us play three games a week virtually all season long.
That’s on top of the COVID-19 pandemic with games taking place behind closed doors with the squad placed in protective bubbles.
However, De Bruyne said that taking a more relaxed approach away from the intensity of the schedule had proved a big part of City’s collective success
“I guess the whole season we have done less tactical training and meetings,” the 29-year-old revealed.
“It will come from a point where we had so many games after each other it would have been too much for the team and himself.
“So, Pep gave us more breathing space and maybe he saw that it was working and responding really well. That’s why people feel relaxed about the situation.”