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Fernandinho warns Man City teammates ahead of Champions League final vs Chelsea – Manchester Evening News

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https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/fernandinho-warns-man-city-teammates-20540498

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Fernandinho says that Manchester City have changed their mind-set to reach the Champions League final.

But the veteran skipper has sent a warning to the rest of the squad as they contemplate the showpiece clash with Chelsea in Istanbul on May 29.

The Blues are 90 minutes from the pinnacle of European club football after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 – and 4-1 on aggregate – in Tuesday’s semi-final.

And Fernandinho was a key figure in that win, on the day he turned 36 – and he says that the team has matured, and found the mentality they have lacked in the last few years.

This has been the Brazil international’s eighth campaign in Europe with City, but they fell at the semi-final hurdle in 2016 and were knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last three seasons.

City’s clear defensive improvements this season are a factor, but Fernandinho believes the change in the minds of the players has been most important.

The Blues went behind in all of those recent quarter-final clashes, and ended up losing, leading to questions being asked about their “bottle”.

Fernandinho thinks that they have now shown that is no longer an issue, and coming from behind against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final second leg, and against PSG, and winning both games, proved it.

“The mentality has changed, especially in the tough moments,” he said. “This team has reached a stage of maturity. 

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“Now we manage the difficult moments much better. When we started losing the games in Dortmund or Paris, for instance, we knew we had to keep playing the same way, our way, and with the quality in this squad and the calmness, that was essential to our change of mentality compared to the previous seasons.”

City can clinch the Premier League title by beating Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, in a dress rehearsal for the final, which would mean a win in Istanbul making them only the second English team ever to win a treble of Champions League, Premier League and a domestic cup.

But Fernandinho has warned his teammates that winning a semi-final is not an end in itself, and will mean little if they lose to Chelsea.

“Reaching the final isn’t enough,” he said. “We need to prepare well, keep doing the things we have done until now, try to go there to play a good game and become champions. That’s our mentality. 

“Reaching the final is the result of a lot of hard work we have done as a team and as a club. It’s a very special and happy moment in the history of the club. 

“I feel very happy and grateful for everyone at Manchester City, it’s never easy to reach a final, especially a Champions League final. Everybody has been amazing and everybody contributed to this achievement. It’s a big step forward for this club.” 

Getting so close to a treble any time is a huge achievement, but doing it under the pressure of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, has been exceptional.

Fernandinho put City’s success into that context: “The Premier League is the most difficult domestic league in Europe. It’s a very demanding tournament, there are a lot of difficult games and you need to keep a high level for 10 months. 

“In the Champions League, there are a lot of great clubs that can win it. I think the key to this team is to treat every game as if it were a final. 

“We face every game trying to win it, either to get three points or to go through the next round. I think we are in a sweet moment. We won the Carabao Cup a few days ago, we are one win away from lifting another Premier League and we are in the Champions League final.”

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