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Nigel excited over the Nou Camp

Nigel de Jong

Nigel de Jong

Nigel De Jong can't wait to tackle mighty Barcelona in the Nou Camp tonight after missing out on City's 2-0 opening-day Premier League victory at Blackburn Rovers.

The game's status as a prestige friendly means pride rather than points will be at stake against the European champions, but Dutch midfielder De Jong says that hardly matters.

Nigel said: "Playing Barcelona in the Nou Camp is a bit special, especially the form they are in now. We'll be able to see where we are standing after a long pre-season and that first game. We're all excited - I've never played at the Nou Camp, so this is my first time.

"I watched the Champions League final, I think everybody here did. Barca were very impressive, but they had been all season - that's why they won the three big prizes, the Spanish League and Cup as well as the Champions League. They play football at its best."

Manager Mark Hughes is expected to rest several key players, with young prospects such as Ryan McGivern, Vladi Weiss and Keiran Trippier all in the squad and desperate to be handed a role.

De Jong explained: "You have to spare a couple of players because you have to remember that it is still a friendly, and the season has started properly for us. You have to watch out with Saturday's game in mind, but of course, everybody wants to play against Barcelona."

Not least Nigel himself. The Holland star, fresh from a fine midweek performance against England, had to settle for a place on the bench at Ewood Park in a selection surprise.

He said: "I wanted to play at Blackburn, but it's the coach's decision and you have to accept that and work harder to get your place in the team.

"Everybody is expecting a lot from Manchester City this season, and it's not going to be easy to  live up to - every team will be looking to beat us now. We have to stick together as a team and fight to try and win every match ... including tonight."   

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