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Dreams of happy return for Silva

'We must put all of our energy into trying to win the Champions League'

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Bernardo Silva: ‘It’s a big opportunity to win the biggest competition in the place where I was born and grew up' Photo: Reuters

Bernardo Silva: ‘It’s a big opportunity to win the biggest competition in the place where I was born and grew up' Photo: Reuters

Bernardo Silva: ‘It’s a big opportunity to win the biggest competition in the place where I was born and grew up' Photo: Reuters

Bernardo Silva has already made one unexpected return to Lisbon this season - now he is targeting a second.

For Manchester City, a maiden Champions League triumph takes on greater significance considering they have their two-year Uefa ban hanging over them for breaking financial fair play rules. With this season's final stages rearranged for Lisbon in August, it would be a homecoming for Bernardo, who had never lived outside the city until he joined Monaco on the eve of his 20th birthday.

He returned to Lisbon on his personal training programme when the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a halt, with summer glory in Europe now the goal as Liverpool are on the brink of taking City's Premier League crown. There is the small matter of protecting their 2-1 lead over Real Madrid, then three one-off ties in the Portuguese capital.

"For me, it is an extra motivation to try to do well in the Champions League," Bernardo said. "It is a special competition and it is going to be a unique event played in my home city.

"To fight for the title in my city would mean a lot. I missed the Euros four years ago when Portugal won the trophy and I was hoping to play in this summer's tournament before the pandemic. It's a big opportunity to win the biggest competition in the place where I was born and grew up.

"Of course what happens with Uefa is an important matter. We can only think about things that we can control right now."

Bernardo headed back to the family home just outside Lisbon when the season was postponed for Covid-19, where he worked on the running and stamina which helped him clock a record 13.7km against Liverpool last season.

"I went back to Portugal for a month and 10 days so I could be with my family," Bernardo said. "As soon as I knew we would restart, I came back to Manchester and spent three weeks to a month in lockdown here. I was lucky because my family live in the countryside, about one hour outside Lisbon.

"The lockdown situation in Portugal was not as strict because we started a little bit before the UK and so things started to get better a little sooner. I was able to go out running or on bike rides with my friends.

"We have a garden, so I could do some ball work - and I just tried to stay as fit as possible. But it isn't the same. It is always harder when you compete with your teammates and so naturally you are in a better physical condition."

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Pep Guardiola's team are also in the FA Cup during the behind-closed-doors end to the season. While there is little to play for in Premier League games, Guardiola is still demanding high standards from his players, as they discovered when they beat Arsenal 3-0 last week. "It is weird because the only thing you could hear was what Pep and Mikel were shouting. You could hear every word," Bernardo said. "When you are playing with 50,000 fans you can pretend that you haven't heard what the manager is saying to you. Now it's impossible."

City wore their Cityzens Giving for Recovery slogan on their shirts against Arsenal. "It is a very good gesture. Everyone is going through a tough time and to help those that need it most is always nice. To wear the logo on the front of our shirts for the Arsenal game was really good and I think it sets a good example," he said.

The scheme aims to get communities back on their feet after Covid-19 and Bernardo hopes European glory will also be a tonic. "We must put all of our energy into trying to win the Champions League this season because whatever happens will happen," he said ahead of tomorrow night's home game against Burnley.

Trophies will also make up for City players missing out on personal awards.

Bernardo believes Kevin De Bruyne should win this season's player-of-the-year prize but City players have missed out in the past.

"I can't understand the situation. Kevin De Bruyne should have won the player of the year two years ago because he was clearly the best player in the league that season," he said.

"People vote for it so it is a fair process, but I can't understand why City players don't get the recognition that they deserve. We can't do anything apart from try to win as many titles as we can as a team."

Telegraph

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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