Bernardo Silva explains the unique challenge Atletico Madrid will pose for Manchester City
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Bernardo Silva feels Manchester City will face a unique challenge when they face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, a side capable of defending deep, running down the clock and reducing the spaces to attack, while also having quality themselves in possession.
Diego Simeone’s tactics are synonymous with organisation and conceding few goals, however, they also have real talents such as Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix, who can hurt opposition sides.
It’s for that reason, Silva knows how challenging Atletico will be when they travel to the Etihad on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Speaking in the press conference, the Portugal international was asked if there are similarities between Atleti and sides in the Premier League. “Honestly, no,” he responded. “Maybe the style of play might be similar to some of the teams in the Premier League but it is a team with some of the best players in the world so it isn’t comparable.
“If you look at the top teams in England, most of them or all of them don’t play like Atletico which is going to make the game a bit different.
“They’re a very competitive side, a very organised side with a very specific style of play. It’s never easy to play against them - you saw Man United and Liverpool two years ago - It wasn’t easy for them and I’m pretty sure it won’t be easy for us, but if we follow Pep’s plan and do our jobs it is going to work out.”
Silva unconcerned by Atletico’s dark arts
As well as their robust style, Atletico have also earned a reputation for perfecting football’s dark arts in these high-profile European games.
Simeone’s players are renowned for surrounding the referee, wasting time and exaggerating knocks and niggles. However, that’s something Silva is not worried about, ahead of the clash at the Etihad.
“It’s something that we cannot control,” Silva explained. “The best we can do is do our game, try and be on a very good level and be on the pitch. The rest is up to the referees, who are very good in this competition. I’m sure they will deal with it properly.
“We know Atletico,” he added. “It’s a team that is very used to playing this kind of games, these kind of important games where the pressure is very high.
“We’re expecting an aggressive team on and off the ball, prepared to counter-attack, to not give us a lot of space. It will definitely be a very tough game for us tomorrow.”
Asked what sort of approach he feels Atletico will bring to the game, Silva said: “The very honest answer is we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if they’re going to try to press high or low and wait for us.
“We know that whenever they try to press us they will be very aggressive they won’t give us much space. We know it will be very tight, it won’t be an open game because that isn’t Atletico’s quality. It will be little details that will be decisive in these kind of games. We don’t expect an open game.”