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City can make Champions League final, Savio warns Madrid

Manchester City might be in unfamiliar territory ahead of a maiden Champions League semi-final appearance but Savio has warned former club Real Madrid they face a tough task in their bid to advance to the showpiece decider.

City will host 10-time European champions Madrid in the first leg of the final-four tie on April 26, following Friday’s semi-final draw.

Manuel Pellegrini’s City made it through to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in their history after upstaging French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight.

Madrid, in contrast, are preparing for a sixth successive Champions League semi-final, however Savio told Omnisport that will count for nothing if they do not improve on their showing against Wolfsburg, which required a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick to overturn a two-goal deficit.

“Man City is a great surprise. They delivered an impressive performance against PSG. They were brilliant in the two legs,” the 42-year-old Brazilian said.

“They are going to be a tough opponent. Madrid had a terrible match in Germany but they could change things with the power of Santiago Bernabeu and some superb talent from the squad.”

Awaiting the winner in the final at San Siro in Milan on May 28 will be either Atletico Madrid or Bayern Munich.

Atletico stunned title-holders Barcelona in the quarter-finals, while Bayern overcame Benfica.

Savio, who played alongside Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu between 2001-2003, added: “Everyone thought that Barcelona were the favourites. It was the same on PSG-Man City. PSG were more solid defending and attacking and then we saw the final result.

“I think that it’s hard to predict anything but City can definitely make it. Their midfield is very strong now with Fernando and Fernandinho. Fernandinho is having a great season, especially in Champions League.

“City also have individual talents. David Silva is so important for the club. [Kevin] De Bruyne is just fantastic and [Sergio] Aguero can make the difference.

“So I strongly believe that City can reach the final and Madrid have to be cautious.”

The clash at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium in just under a fortnight will see former Manchester United star Ronaldo return to the city, while team-mate and ex-Tottenham attacker Gareth Bale is also set to touch down on English soil again.

Savio, though, insists the duo do not need any extra motivation as Madrid bid to win an 11th European crown.

“It’s a Champions League match so that’s enough,” he said. “They both were brilliant in England. Cristiano for Man United and Bale with Spurs achieved a lot.

“They are now vital for Madrid and obviously coming back to where they were so happy is something special. But playing a Champions League semi-final, fighting for the 11th title, is motivation enough.”

Sat 16 Apr, 2016
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