x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Kolarov's confidence in Kompany

Serbian believes his Manchester teammate can be as good as rival Nemanja Vidic.

Alexsandar Kolarov, second left, Nemanja Vidic, centre and Vincent Kompany, right, will put friendship aside today. John Peters / Getty Images
Alexsandar Kolarov, second left, Nemanja Vidic, centre and Vincent Kompany, right, will put friendship aside today. John Peters / Getty Images

Aleksandar Kolarov believes his Manchester City teammate Vincent Kompany can become the best defender in Europe.

The Serbia international lines up against the man he feels deserves that title at the moment, his compatriot Nemanja Vidic, in today's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

But the left-back is convinced that Kompany can reach the level of Manchester United captain Vidic.

Kolarov said: "Nemanja is a great player, and I'm not just saying that because he's my friend.

"I know he is the United captain, but I really do think he's the best defender in England, and if you are the best in the English league you are the best in Europe, in my opinion.

"You have to remember that Vinnie [Kompany] is [four years] younger than Vidic and he's done really well for us this season.

"I'm lucky to be able to play alongside him, as well, and if he continues the way he is going I think he can be as good as Vidic."

Today's game will be the first Manchester derby to be staged at Wembley and the fierce rivalry means Kolarov will put aside his friendship with Vidic.

"I know him very well," he said. "We play together in the national team but I have known him since he played for Red Star Belgrade and we are very good friends.

"They have a lot of respect for us and we have for them, as well. We'll say hello to them but that will be it."

City's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool five days ago constituted less-than-ideal preparation, but Kolarov believes that Roberto Mancini's team can rouse themselves for a still bigger match.

"We played badly against Liverpool on Monday, so this is the best opportunity for the whole team to prove that we are a strong side," he said.

"We have had a few players, like me, who have come to England for the first time this season and we have found it hard to get used to it, but we have become a good team and we have this fantastic opportunity to get to the FA Cup final.

"We have to improve from Monday, but we are playing United, it's at Wembley and there is a place in the final to play for so we will give everything we can. It's so close to winning a trophy and going into City's history."

A Coppa Italia winner in 2009 during his time at Lazio, Kolarov recognises the importance of the FA Cup in England.

"I won the Italian Cup, but even in my first season I can see a big difference between that, playing in the league and the FA Cup," he said. "We knew all about it in Italy and in Serbia, I watched the Premier League and the FA Cup so I had seen what it was all about.

"Now having played here I understand what it means, not just to Manchester City but to the whole country.

"I think if we win on Saturday, for the people here it would be like winning the championship.

"The FA Cup is the biggest competition in England, and it's against United at Wembley Stadium, so it will be a great game."

Like the FA Cup, the Manchester derby is a phenomenon Kolarov has a greater knowledge of after a few months in England.

"I had watched City and United a lot, years ago, but now I am here and I understand much better what it means to the fans, to the city and to the team," he said.

"To draw United in a semi-final makes it almost like a final. Winning would give us a great opportunity to win the FA Cup.

Bolton and Stoke, the other semi-finalists, "are good teams and we respect them, but I think we are better.

"I knew that the dream of many players is to play at Wembley. I have the chance to play there and it is a real honour for me to play there for City."