The UEFA Champions League draw on Thursday threw up some fixtures that will see the returns of certain players to their old stomping grounds. The round is set to be full of emotion and drama, as a couple of clubs will welcome back their former favourite sons. Lukas Podolski will face former club Bayern Munich as he lines up for Arsenal. More significantly however, Cristiano Ronaldo will face his former club Manchester United for the first time since his move to Real Madrid in 2009, in what is easily the most eagerly anticipated tie of the round.
Strangely, all the fixtures turned out exactly as they did in the practice draw the day before. However, several of them look to be thoroughly exciting for the neutrals. Possibly the two most underrated teams of the tournament this season, Borussia Dortmund will square off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Both sides have looked very impressive so far in the competition and they each have several young, very talented footballers which should make for great viewing. Bayern Munich vs Arsenal is another fixture to look out for. The German giants have been quietly efficient so far this season, but can expect a tough test from the Gunners over the two legs. Both teams have looked vulnerable in defence at times, so the tie could be an attacker’s delight.
AC Milan vs Barcelona shows great promise too. The erstwhile European powerhouse vs the perennial tournament favourite. However, all eyes will be on the Santiago Bernabeu on the 13th of February, as Cristiano Ronaldo lines up against his former club for the first time since moving to Spain. While United fans still sing his name, it remains to be seen what sort of reception he will get upon his return to Old Trafford. With the additional sub-plot of the old rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, the stage is set for an absolutely thrilling pair of encounters.
The draw in full is as follows (with the club’s country in brackets):
Galatasaray (Turkey) vs Schalke 04 (Germany)
Juventus (Italy) vs Celtic (Scotland)
AC Milan (Italy) vs Barcelona (Spain)
Valencia (Spain) vs Paris Saint-Germain (France)
Arsenal (England) vs Bayern Munich (Germany)
FC Porto (Portugal) vs Malaga (Spain)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
Real Madrid (Spain) vs Manchester United (England)