'It's not just another game' – Silva welcomes Man City pressure against Atletico

By Sports Desk April 04, 2022

Bernardo Silva welcomes the pressure on Manchester City to continue their charge for a maiden Champions League title when they face Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final in what is "not just another game".

Pep Guardiola's Premier League side cruised through their last-16 clash with Sporting, winning 5-0 on aggregate, to tee up their first meeting with Atletico in European competition.

The Etihad Stadium will play host to the first leg on Tuesday before the return meeting in Spain on April 13 as City look to lift the Champions League for the first time in their history.

City have only lost one of their last nine games in the competition beyond the group stage (W7 D1), with that defeat coming in the final last season against Chelsea.

Silva openly acknowledged the pressure on his team to deliver European success, but he sees it as an opportunity as opposed to a reason for concern.

"It's not just another game, it's a very important game for us, it's a competition that maybe just Scott Carson has won," he told reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"Pep as well but the club has never won it. Most of us have never won it. We really want to do it. Over the years we weren't able to do it, it is the only one missing and we want to go for it again.

"The pressure is always there and we know these fans always expect us to perform well in this competition and we're going to try our best to make our fans happy and proud of us."

Pressed on the frustrations of Europe's premier club competition evading City so far, Silva added: "We know how important this competition is. It's where the best clubs in Europe play.

"It's definitely a goal. It's a thing that we really want to achieve but if we are going to achieve it - nobody knows. The only thing we can promise to our fans and the club is that we're going to do our best and try as hard as we can to achieve that.

When asked about the pressure to win the tournament when seemingly appearing the favourites, Silva responded: "I don't think it is anxiety but pressure. Pressure to win is nice because it means you're in a great club fighting for everything.

"It is pressure that we want because we want to win those competitions. Atletico are a great side also, I'm sure they have that same thing. There is lots of pressure from the fans to continue to win.

"They are the champions of Spain and they also have to do well in the Champions League. There is lots of pressure on both sides but we are players used to this and we will manage it really well."

Guardiola and Simeone have faced off four times before in their managerial career, with the latter eliminating the Spaniard's Bayern Munich on away goals in the 2015-16 Champions League semi-final.

Atletico averaged just 27 per cent possession across the two legs and scored twice from 18 shots, while Bayern netted the same number of goals from 53 attempts, and Silva believes Simeone's visitors will pose a unique challenge.

"Honestly, no. Maybe the style of play might be similar to some teams in the Premier League," he said of how Atletico compared to English teams.

"It's a team with some of the best players in the world. It's not comparable. Club teams in England, most or all, don't play like Atletico, which makes the game different. Very competitive, organised, with a specific style of play. It wasn't easy for [Manchester] United, Liverpool two years ago. It won't be easy for us but if we follow Pep's plan it will work out.

"The team I see today is better prepared than even last season. It comes from disappointment. We know each other better. It’s been five or six years we’ve been with Pep. We keep learning from our mistakes."

City's focus will quickly turn to a home clash with Liverpool on Sunday that is being labelled as a title decider, with Jurgen Klopp's side just a point behind Guardiola's leaders with eight games to play.

However, Silva suggested the crucial double-header within five days of each other is a compliment to the quality of his team.

"The players are used to it," he continued. "It’s a good sign and it means we are there to fight for titles. It's good to be able to fight for all of them. We enjoy it, playing against the best teams for the best competitions."

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