BASEL, Switzerland — Manchester City are determined to break into the European elite but Fernandinho admitted they’ve found it hard in the Champions League in past seasons.
Pep Guardiola’s side took a huge step toward reaching the quarterfinals of the competition for just the second time with a 4-0 first leg victory away to Swiss champions Basel on Tuesday night.
City have been eliminated at the knockout stages by Barcelona twice and by Real Madrid in recent seasons, failing to win any of the six legs against the Spanish giants.
Fernandinho said they need to reach the level of Barca, Madrid and German champions Bayern Munich and echoed the sentiments of Vincent Kompany, who said they have underperformed in the competition in previous years.
“I’ve been here for five years and I’ve shared some painful days in the Champions League with [Kompany], so we want to change it,” Fernandinho said. “I know the way is hard but we’re working a lot to try to end with the hegemony of those three clubs.
“Like I’ve said: game by game. We’ve made a great performance and we have to make it again at home to think about the quarterfinals.”
City are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple with a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League and a place in the Carabao Cup final already secured.
They are winning plenty of plaudits for their brilliant form, but Fernandinho said they must ignore the hype and focus on claiming silverware.
“We can’t deny that our confidence is really high, seeing that we’re getting good results, the way we’ve been playing and scoring,” he said. “The team is getting more and more confident and that’s the way to get our goals — go through in Champions League, keep our position in Premier League and try to get the title as soon as possible, plus our chances on English cups.
“We know the definitive moments are coming on the next three or four months. But we keep thinking game by game and that’s important. We’re not trying to reach further than is possible. That’s a virtue we’ve got.
“We have an incredible preparation for each game. The focus is 100 percent. Probably that’s our uniqueness — we don’t listen to the buzz around us.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.