When UEFA Champions League draws are made at any stage, there is always the possibility that players will play against their former clubs and the upcoming Round of 16 clashes feature eight players who will return to the stadium they once called home.
Matija Nastasic vs Manchester City
The Manchester City vs Schalke tie is the only one in which both sides will have a player facing their former side. For Schalke, their 25-year-old centre-back Matija Nastasic will be given the herculean task of stopping Manchester City’s rampant attack.
Nastasic played 51 games for City in two and a half seasons before joining Schalke in January 2015. The Serbian helped City win the league title in 2013/14 but injuries and the arrival of new defenders limited his chances at the club. However, he was named the club’s Young Player of the Year in 2012/13.
The Serb is already relishing the prospect of facing his former club.
“I’m pleased we have drawn City,” Nastasic said. “These will be two very special matches for me as I played for the Citizens before signing for Schalke. Consequently, I’ll get to meet a few familiar faces. We know how strong our opponents are but we will give it our best shot.”
Leroy Sane vs Schalke 04
When Leroy Sane was only 19-years-old, he made his Champions League debut for Schalke against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and scored a sensational goal from outside the box in a famous 4-3 win for his boyhood club.
The German winger has come a long way from that and is now a much better player than he was when he left Schalke in 2016 for Manchester City. For Schalke, Sane scored 13 goals in 57 games and for City, he has already racked up 31 goals in 106 games.
Schalke will have to keep their former star and many others at bay if they are to have any chance of progressing to the next round.
Mario Mandzukic vs Atletico Madrid
Mario Mandzukic was at Atletico Madrid for only one season but he is still remembered by the fans of the club for a sensational display and scoring a goal in a 4-0 win over archrivals Real Madrid.
In total, he scored 20 times in 43 games for Atletico in his only season with the club before joining his present club Juventus. The Croatian is a crowd favourite in Turin also due to his hardworking nature, willingness to play out of position for the team and knack of scoring vital goals.
Angel Di Maria vs Manchester United
If there is one former player who can expect boos when he turns up for the away leg, it is undoubtedly Angel Di Maria. He arrived at Manchester United in 2014 for a then club record transfer fee but he struggled in England and left after only one season for PSG on a sour note.
The Argentine is a crucial member of the PSG side and has gone on to score 57 times in 149 games for them, including two in the Champions League this season. He has impressed Thomas Tuchel so much that he was offered a new contract earlier this season.
Samuel Umtiti vs Olympique Lyon
Samuel Umtiti is a product of the famous Lyon academy and he played 170 games for the club winning two trophies before leaving for Barcelona in 2016.
The Frenchman has become a crucial member of the Barcelona backline and is arguably their best defender. Barcelona fans will hope he can overcome his recent injury problems and play at his best against his former club brimming with attacking talent. Umtiti will face the likes of Nabil Fekir and Anthony Lopes who were his teammates for many years right from the academy days to the Lyon first team.
Iván Marcano vs Porto
Ivan Marcano is the least glamorous player on this list and the player who has the lowest probability of facing his former club even if he’s fit.
The Spaniard was a crucial player for Porto for four seasons and scored 14 goals in 157 games. He lifted the league title with Porto in his final season before joining Roma in the summer on a free transfer. He isn’t a key player for the Serie A club and has only played five games across all competitions so far.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar vs Real Madrid
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was one of many Dutch players who was once part of the Real Madrid squad but was sold in the summer of 2009. The Dutchman only played half a season in Real Madrid’s colours but he still scored eight goals in 20 games despite facing competition from Raul.
He has faced Real Madrid in the Champions League before with Schalke and even scored two goals including the winning goal in their famous 4-3 win at the Bernabeu in 2015.
Huntelaar returned to the Netherlands in 2017 with his former club Ajax and has scored 26 times in 57 games for them. The 35-year-old may not start against his former club but will definitely play a part in the tie at least from the bench.
Xherdan Shaqiri vs Bayern Munich
Xherdan Shaqiri joined Bayern Munich in 2012 as a promising youngster and was part of their treble-winning side in 2013 albeit as a squad player.
Shaqiri was close to leaving Bayern in 2014 for Liverpool before the Bavarian side pulled the plug on the deal. He eventually made his way to Liverpool in 2018 via Inter Milan and Stoke City.
The Swiss international has proved to be a terrific signing for Liverpool this season as he has racked up five goals and four assists in only 17 games while starting just nine of them. Shaqiri will feature for the Reds against Bayern Munich and he will be hoping to make his former club eat humble pie.