Manchester City ready for ‘stressful’ European Super Cup clash with Sevilla as defender Nathan Ake insists they’ll go all-out to win the trophy for the first time
- Champions League and Europa League holders meet in Athens on Wednesday
- Manchester City are competing in the Super Cup for the first time ever
- The first full episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ is available now
Manchester City are anticipating more ‘stress’ as they attempt to make history in their first European Super Cup this week.
The Treble-winners travel to Athens to face Europa League holders Sevilla on Wednesday aware that one-off matches are rarely straightforward, having squeaked past Manchester United and Inter Milan by a single goal to secure the FA Cup and Champions League.
Defender Nathan Ake, part of City’s side that opened up their Premier League title defence with a 3-0 win at Burnley on Friday night, said: ‘Finals are always tough. It is never like a normal game. We noticed that in the FA Cup final, Champions League final.
‘They can become extra stressful because of the prize on offer. From Monday we will watch clips and look at how we can hurt Sevilla. We played last season but this is a new season so things will be different.
‘The club has never won this trophy and now we are in a position to do it. We want to win it for sure. Bring it to the club and for ourselves as well.’
Manchester City defender Nathan Ake says they will go all-out to win the European Super Cup
Pep Guardiola’s City beat Inter Milan to win the Champions League for the first time
Though the European Super Cup is not regarded as among the most important trophies in itself, the annual clash between the two major European champions is considered prestigious on the continent and takes City into new territory having never won the Champions League before.
What is remarkable is how Guardiola’s City has changed 180 degrees since he first arrived in 2016.
Back then, there was a suspicion among nay-sayers that he was a one-trick tiki-taka pony.
He now has six top-class central defenders to choose from and other strong physical forces like Erling Haaland and Rodri. Rarely can any team bully City now.
Ake spent most of last season at left-back but moved into the middle, his natural position, at Turf Moor to cover for injuries to John Stones and Ruben Dias.
‘We keep rotating in training so it’s not something new or something I have lost,’ he said.
‘The fitness and rhythm come week by week at the start of the season. Even at Burnley, we were not at our best, we were a bit sloppy on the ball. But to win 3-0 at difficult opponents is a perfect start.
‘For me personally, to start the Champions League final gave me a big lift having picked up a frustrating injury just before. For the manager to keep the faith in such an important match meant everything to me.’
Sevilla beat Roma to win the Europa League once again and now take on City in Athens
Ake (left) celebrates with Erling Haaland after the Norwegian opened the scoring at Burnley
The showpiece in Greece is another opportunity for Haaland to show why he is considered a Ballon d’Or contender.
He scored two fantastic goals at Burnley, essentially with his first two touches, to follow up his record-breaking 52 goals last season.
‘That is Erling!’ said Ake. ‘The finishes were very good, it is incredible to see. A lot of times he was also one v one and to see his strength and how we can use him is perfect for this team. We are so happy to have him.
‘Every time he amazes us with the goals he scored and important ones as well. He has got this drive to for sure do that [beat 52 goals].’
The reigning champions are still the team to beat and victory over Sevilla, captained by ex-City veteran Jesus Navas, would bring a fourth title of 2023.
One blow is the absence of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up a recurrence of a hamstring pull against Burnley and could be out for a few weeks.
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