Fernandinho believes his midfield alliance with Fernando could help Manchester City to become more consistent performers in Europe ahead of their crunch Group D trip to Sevilla.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over their Liga opponents in Manchester last time out, with Kevin De Bruyne firing a stoppage-time winner.
Another victory would secure City’s progress to the knockout stages with two matches to spare if leaders Juventus also win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, although the Premier League leaders have once again failed to replicate their dominant domestic form on the European stage.
Pellegrini’s commitment to an expansive style is often cited as a vulnerability, with City’s midfield leaving their defence exposed too often against high-class opposition – a weakness Sevilla failed to fully exploit at the Etihad Stadium.
In that match, as in the win over Borussia, City were forced to come from a goal down to win – Fernando’s introduction from the bench alongside fellow Brazilian Fernandinho bringing greater control in central areas and providing a platform to push for victory.
In his debut season in Manchester after moving from Porto, Fernando regularly fell short of his best form as he was hindered by a groin injury.
He has impressed this time around, paired with Fernandinho from the start in the recent 0-0 draw at Manchester United, and his compatriot feels they could be used again in tandem to good effect at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
“It’s very good to play alongside him because we can talk in the same language – it’s a bit easier to communicate between us,” Fernandinho told City’s official website.
“The manager asks us to close the middle, to be a balanced team and I think this is very good. The results show that.
“I am very happy for him and for me as well. I hope we can do more games like that, especially in the Champions League.
“If we are going to play together on Tuesday I would be very happy and I hope we can win that game.
“It’s time to prove [ourselves]. I think this is a great opportunity to show our quality and our ambition against a tough team.”
Sevilla are hopeful that playmaker Ever Banega can overcome an ankle injury to feature, although Unai Emery will be without first-choice striker Kevin Gameiro in a match where defeat would leave the Europa League holders facing elimination.
The French forward suffered a hamstring injury during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Villarreal and is targeting a return against Real Madrid next weekend.
Spain international Fernando Llorente came off the bench to score in that game, drawing a line under injury niggles of his own, and could be in line to start.
Gameiro’s absence may bring Ciro Immobile back into contention – the on-loan Borussia Dortmund striker having failed to make the matchday squad for Sevilla’s previous three outings.
“I’m happy with [Immobile],” Emery told a press conference. “He is integrated into the team and wants to be out there playing, but he’s remaining patient. His work is going to be rewarded.”
City remain without Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph (all hamstring), Pablo Zabaleta (knee) and Gael Clichy (ankle), with the match also expected to come too soon for David Silva as the Spain star’s ankle complaint threatens to once again rule out a reunion with his former Valencia boss Emery.
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