Football

Homeboy Bernardo Silva driven by Champions League final in Lisbon

Man City attacker, not bothered by looming ban, wants Champions League title

Manchester City's Bernardo Silva has said he is even more motivated to win the Champions League, after Uefa's decision for a "Final Eight" tournament to be played out in the attacker's home city of Lisbon.

City won the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu before football was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should the English Premier League giants successfully navigate past the second leg, they will join seven other quarter-finalists in the Portuguese capital to complete the competition over a 12-day period, with the final set for Aug 23.

"Personally, it's an extra motivation," Bernardo was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"It is a special competition and it's going to be a unique event played in my home city. For me to fight for the title in the place I was born and grew up would mean a lot.

"It would be so, so special, even more because I missed the Euros four years ago when Portugal won the trophy and I was hoping to play in this summer's Euro 2020 before the pandemic."

Silva also insisted that the looming threat of a European ban will have no impact on City's bid for Champions League glory.

City are currently appealing a two-year ban that starts next season for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, with a decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport expected next month.

"What we can control is to play the competition in the best possible way. We must put all of our energy into trying to win the Champions League," Silva said.

"All of the players are with the club. We will try to do our best this year and not worry about anything else."

If Silva wants to play a crucial role in helping Pep Guardiola's side attain European success, then he would need to reclaim a starting place in the team, after being used as a substitute in City's 3-0 win over Arsenal on Wednesday.

COMPLETE PLAYER

Silva, who has become a more complete player under Guardiola according to Nuno Gomes, could do so against Burnley tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"Bernardo is, for me at the moment, one of the best players that we have in Portugal," former Portugal striker Gomes told Stats Perform News.

"With Pep, he's improved a lot. I believe that Guardiola has said a lot of times that he is a massive fan of Silva and I believe Silva, knowing that he has the trust and the confidence of the coach, he goes onto the field and he plays naturally, because he has a talent that is natural."

The 25-year-old has become one of City's standout stars since his arrival from AS Monaco in the summer of 2017 for £46 million (S$79m).

However, he has not shown the same form this season that saw him shortlisted for PFA Player of the Year in City's title win in 2018/19.

The attacker would be looking to remedy that against Burnley, but Silva expects a tough time against Sean Dyche's men.

"Burnley (game) is always a physical fight. We know the way they play," said the Portugal international.

"We don't know if we will be a bit tired after the Arsenal game or how fit Burnley will be, so the game is a little bit different.

"We played at a very good level on Wednesday and hopefully we can do that again... It's good to be back playing and we will have to get used to that atmosphere (closed-door games) and do our best."

Defender Aymeric Laporte is expected to start against the Clarets, having completed 70 minutes against the Gunners.

Forward Leroy Sane, who was on the bench for that game, and defender John Stones are fit and in contention to start.

However, defender Eric Garcia, who was stretchered off having collided with teammate Ederson, is out.

For Burnley, striker Chris Wood and midfielder Johann Gudmundsson are doubtful, while striker Ashley Barnes will miss out as he continues to recover from a hernia operation.

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