Bernardo Silva insists his Manchester City team-mates are motivated by Pep Guardiola’s claims they are not ready to win the Champions League.
City made an emphatic statement of intent in the last 16, demolishing Bundesliga strugglers Schalke 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium to wrap up a 10-2 aggregate triumph – the second biggest knockout-stage win in the history of the competition.
Guardiola was fulsome in his praise of City’s efforts afterwards but returned to a familiar theme of marvelling at the Champions League pedigree of others – most notably Juventus after Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick heroics ransacked Atletico Madrid.
The Premier League champions found themselves 2-1 behind during the first leg against Schalke and down to 10 men after Nicolas Otamendi’s red card. At the time, Guardiola stated that his team landing in that predicament showed they were not ready to lift Europe’s most coveted club trophy.
Portugal international Silva, who continued a stellar individual season by clipping home City’s fifth on Tuesday, appreciated his manager has thrown down an enticing challenge.
“Of course, we will try to prove him wrong,” he said.
“We know it is a difficult competition, a special competition against the best teams in Europe, but we players will try to prove him wrong.
“It would mean a lot [to win the Champions League] but it is too early to talk about that. Stage by stage we will try to get past our opponents.
“We will see who we are playing against in the quarter-finals.”
— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) March 12, 2019
Before and after the second leg against Schalke, Guardiola referred to City as “teenagers” in terms of their Champions League pedigree and Silva believes a collective desire to breach new ground could be an advantage during the closing stages.
“Most of the team is young – there is a hunger for titles, we don’t have a big player between us,” he said, with City’s previous best in the tournament a 2016 semi-final defeat to Real Madrid.
“To have all these players that can make a difference and that have an important role in the team I think is our biggest strength.”
Following long delays and confusion around Schalke’s two penalties in the initial game, VAR made an inauspicious Champions League debut at the Etihad Stadium.
Three of City’s first four goals prompted lengthy checks, even as the points of contention seemed minimal.
But Silva believes using the technology offers clear benefits once such kinks are ironed out.
“For me, no, I think it is a good thing,” he added.
“It helps the referees to make fewer mistakes. Yes, of course, it cuts a little bit of the emotion of the game.
“But I think it helps the referees in all the games when there are mistakes and helps make the game on TV a bit cleaner.”
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