Riyad Mahrez, ahead of Manchester City’s appearance in the Champions League final, says he is grateful for the support of the club’s fans in the Middle East. The English Premier League and the League Cup winners want to achieve a third trophy of the campaign when they face English rivals Chelsea in Portugal on Saturday. Mahrez’s influence on the team grew, and he scored both goals in the team’s semi-final with the second leg over Paris St-Germain. The Algerian is expected to be a key figure in what is likely to be the biggest match in City’s history. “I think the longer you are with a team, the easier it is to play, to know what is expected of you and how your teammates play too,” Mahrez said. “It’s really important. This season is my third year here and I know the manager, I know the players, I know the system better than ever. After that, it’s just about working hard and performing, and I hope I did it this season. ‘It’s a great moment for everyone on the team, something you’re been dreaming of as a child. Of course we wanted to get to this stage a long time ago and now that we are here, we want to make sure we lift the trophy. We played very strong teams to get here, and those games were not easy. There were moments against Dortmund and PSG when people would have looked at us and said they might not pick it up. But we came together as a group and now we are playing perhaps the biggest games in our club career. It’s a dream for any player to play at this level, and we want to go after it to do what we can to win. ” After signing for Leicester for City in 2018, Mahrez is one of City’s more experienced players at 30. “It’s weird like a football player,” he said. ‘You come through the system as a young child, you break into the team, you are the young one in the group and then all of a sudden you are one of the more experienced players. But I enjoy it. There is a strong group of players here, and the only difference I think is what we all did on our way to join Manchester City.
‘We all have experiences we can share, difficult moments through which we have found a way and try to do it across the group. Clearly, it is important to help the young guys as much as possible because they have so much talent and only need advice here and there to help them on their own paths. ” Last month, City took part in an English football boycott on social media in England to protest the continued discriminatory abuse that players and other players received at the game online. However, social media can be a useful tool for the modern footballer, and it enables Mahrez to stay connected with his large global fanbase, especially in the Middle East. “I hope my social media keeps all my fans connected to what I do here in England,” he said. ‘I definitely feel the love of the guys who support me there. These guys encourage you to be better and make you proud to play at the highest level because every football fan dreams of what we have to do and it is very special. I hope they feel part of my journey here and I am just as grateful for all their support. ‘Ramadan is obviously an important time for me as it is for so many people. Eid is also incredibly special. Both were good this year and I hope it was the same for everyone. ” The 2020/21 season has so far been extremely successful for City – and Mahrez. Now they hope to end it by winning the biggest prize of all. “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who supports the club,” Mahrez said. ‘It was a strange season in which we could not see the fans and had them with us at matches, but we know that everyone is watching and encouraging us from home. In the difficult moments on the field, that idea can really motivate you to achieve, so everyone is so important to this success. We have already won the league cup and the premier league for our fans, and the final will be special, so everyone should enjoy it and hopefully we can win the trophy for everyone out there who loves City. ”