Barca's De Jong bullish on Champions League hopes

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Marco Reus (L) of Germany vies with Frenkie de Jong of Netherlands during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group C qualifying football match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hamburg, Germany, Sept. 6, 2019. (Photo by Ulrich Hufnagel/Xinhua)

FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong said he is excited about his side's chances of ending the season by winning the UEFA Champions League, but warned that the single-game format for the quarterfinals and semifinals this season could produce some surprises.

Barca will face Napoli on Saturday in the return leg of their last-16 tie which is finely balanced after a 1-1 draw in Italy before the tournament was suspended because of COVID-19.

The return to football in Spain saw Barca disappoint, and De Jong was injured for most of the run-in as they surrendered a two-point lead over Real Madrid to finish the season five points behind the eventual champions.

Speaking to Barca TV, the 23-year-old said he preferred to forget what happened in June and July and look ahead.

"In four games we could win the Champions League," he said, adding that this season's format, which has been shortened because of the pandemic, was special.

"It also gives advantages to the smaller teams, as it is easier to surprise a big club if there is just one game."

The Dutchman added that he was convinced his side would get past Napoli, adding that he now felt fully fit after enjoying some minutes in Barca's last two league games of the season, at home to Osasuna and away to Alaves.

"The last weeks have helped me to prepare and I am ready to face Napoli. I am always motivated by the Champions League, because it is special," commented De Jong.

The Dutchman is likely to return at the weekend with Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal both suspended on Saturday.

"We will miss them because they are world-class players, but we have a squad of players able to replace them. It depends on us, on how we go out onto the pitch and how we play. We are all thinking about winning the Champions League," he concluded.

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