Five players who starred against former clubs as Lewandowski awaits Bayern reunion

By Sports Desk August 25, 2022

The draw for the group stages of the 2022-23 Champions League has thrown up major talking points with Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland set for reunions with their former employers.

Lewandowski's Barcelona will face Bayern Munich, while Haaland returns to Borussia Dortmund now donning the shirt of Manchester City.

Having scored 344 goals for Bayern, with whom he won eight consecutive Bundesliga titles and the Champions League in 2019-20, the German giants will be fearful of the threat Lewandowski will pose.

Players coming toe-to-toe with their former clubs is nothing new and Stats Perform has selected five memorable occasions from years gone by.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Having left Manchester United in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo faced off against the Red Devils for the first time in the first knockout round of the 2012-13 Champions League, scoring in both legs.

Five years later, in the 2018-19 group stages of the competition, Ronaldo this time played against United for Juventus, scoring in a 2-1 defeat in Turin.

During his illustrious career, Ronaldo also went up against Sporting CP, the club where he started his career, scoring three goals in four matches.

Luis Figo

Luis Figo's controversial move from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 is now the focus of a Netflix documentary and, to this day, still stands as one of the most shocking transfers in football history.

Two years later, in November 2002, Figo returned to Camp Nou for the second time and received a fiery reception from the home supporters, who threw numerous objects towards the Portuguese star. Most notable was a pig's head.

Figo spent five years in the Spanish capital, winning LaLiga twice and the Champions League in 2001-02.

Robin van Persie 

Signed as a youngster by Arsenal, Robin van Persie grew to become one of the greatest players in the Arsene Wenger era and captained the side from 2011 after Cesc Fabregas' move to Barcelona.

A move to Manchester United came just a year later, however, with the Dutch striker going on to score home and away against the Gunners, celebrating at Old Trafford after abuse from the visiting fans.

The biggest pain he inflicted on Arsenal came in the Premier League. United won the title following his signing, with the Arsenal squad giving them a guard of honour at the end of the campaign.

James Rodriguez

Signed by Real Madrid after starring at the 2014 World Cup, the Colombian's stint in the Spanish capital was not as he would have hoped. He became an expendable asset, which saw him sent to Bayern Munich for two years in 2017.

In the semi-finals of the 2017-18 Champions League, the loanee faced his parent club and scored in a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu, with there being no clause preventing him from featuring in the game.

Bayern lost 4-3 on aggregate, however, with Madrid going on to win the title that season.

Robert Lewandowski

Facing familiar opposition is nothing new for Lewandowski, who had to do it time and time again during his spell with Bayern Munich.

The Poland international was devastating against Borussia Dortmund for Bayern, scoring 27 goals in 26 games. That included two hat-tricks in the Bundesliga, one of which came in a 6-0 demolition in the 2017-18 season.

 

Related items

  • Shaw: England extra motivated after Wales' Euro 2016 celebrations Shaw: England extra motivated after Wales' Euro 2016 celebrations

    Luke Shaw says England are extra motivated heading into their World Cup clash with Wales after their opponents wildly celebrated the Three Lions' exit from Euro 2016.

    An infamous video circulated following England's embarrassing last-16 defeat to Iceland six and a half years ago showing Wales' players lapping up their fierce rivals' demise.

    Wales surpassed expectations by making it to the semi-finals of that competition, despite losing to England in the group stage, but they have had less success at Qatar 2022.

    The Dragons require a victory against England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium if they are to avoid a group-stage exit and must hope the United States and Iran play out a draw elsewhere.

    A four-goal win for Wales against their neighbours on Tuesday would also be enough, but they have not so much as avoided defeated against England in their past six meetings.

    Shaw, who played a full part in England's 6-2 win over Iran and goalless draw with the USA, believes the scenes from 2016 will add more spice to an already feisty fixture.

    "I think you could say that," Shaw said. "But our motivation in itself has to be at its highest level. We are at the World Cup. We have great aims for what we want to achieve.

    "We have to have the maximum motivation at every game. I don't think there's any more motivation than what we have already. 

    "It wasn't nice. I don't want to dwell too much on that. I want to focus on what we do on the pitch. We can say things in interviews and I'd rather do our talking on the pitch."

    Asked if England's players would consider recording similar scenes of celebrating should they knock out Wales, Shaw said: "I think we are a respectful group.

    "We do things in the right way. That's the example Gareth [Southgate] wants to set. We are fully behind that. We are fully respectful.

    "I think their motivation is going to be extremely high. They are going to give everything to win. It's not an easy game. But we need to focus on what we do."

    England will advance to the knockout stage if they avoid a heavy loss to Wales, though Southgate's side will be targeting a victory to make certain of top spot in Group B.

    Speaking ahead of England's first ever World Cup match against a fellow British side, Southgate said: "We have got to play well. 

    "We are going to play an opponent that is wounded and, like everybody else, desperate to beat the English. We've got to play an intelligent game, play well and match their spirit.

    "I would be very disappointed if someone says their players will want it more than ours. I'd be asking questions about what we stand for and what we have been for five years."

    England have lost their third and final group-stage game in just two of their 14 participations at the World Cup (W7 D5), doing so against Spain in 1950 and Belgium in 2018.

  • Queiroz accuses Klinsmann of 'outrageous' slurs against Iran, demands German quits FIFA job Queiroz accuses Klinsmann of 'outrageous' slurs against Iran, demands German quits FIFA job

    Carlos Queiroz has demanded Jurgen Klinsmann resign from his FIFA position after making a string of accusations about Iran's World Cup team, labelling the German's comments "a disgrace".

    Iran head coach Queiroz reacted after his team were accused by Klinsmann of having "worked the referee" during the 2-0 win against Wales on Friday.

    Working as a BBC pundit, Klinsmann suggested Iran getting to the match officials and pushing the boundaries of acceptability was "part of their culture".

    In response, Queiroz suggested California-based Klinsmann's "outrageous remarks" stemmed from his "American/German" background.

    He said Klinsmann should visit Iran's training camp to learn more about the team, but must step down from FIFA's World Cup technical study group beforehand.

    Prompted about the conduct of Iran's players in the Wales game just staying on the right side of the game's laws, Klinsmann said: "That's their culture, that's their way of doing it, and that's why Carlos Queiroz, he fits really well the Iranian national team.

    "He struggled in South America and failed with Colombia to qualify, and then he failed with Egypt to qualify as well, and he went back right before the World Cup and guided Iran, where he worked already for a long, long time.

    "This is not by coincidence. This is just part of their culture, that's how they play it. They worked the referee. You saw the bench, always jumping up and always working the linesman and fourth referee on the sidelines, they are constantly in their ear.

    "This is their culture; they make you lose your focus, make you lose your concentration and what's important to you."

    Klinsmann said there could have been a "big difference with another referee" and added: "Let's say it did not play into the hands of Wales."

    Queiroz responded on Saturday with a string of withering Twitter messages aimed at Klinsmann, who was a 1990 World Cup winner as a player with West Germany and later coach of Germany and the United States.

    Queiroz began by saying: "Even not knowing me personally, you question my character with a typical prejudiced judgement of superiority.

    "No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran culture, Iran national team and my players are a disgrace to football. Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course.

    "Even saying so, we would like to invite you as our guest, to come to our national team camp, socialise with Iran players and learn from them about the country, the people of Iran, the poets and art, the algebra, all the millennial Persian culture…

    "And also listen from our players how much they love and respect football. As American/German, we understand your no support. No problem. And despite your outrageous remarks on BBC trying to undermine our efforts, sacrifices and skills, we promise you that we will not produce any judgements regarding your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome to our family.

    "At the same time, we just want to follow with full attention what will be the decision of FIFA regarding your position as a member of Qatar 2022 technical study group.

    "Because, obviously, we expect you to resign before you visit our camp."

    This is former Manchester United assistant boss Queiroz's third consecutive World Cup as Iran boss. His short spells with Colombia and Egypt followed the 2018 tournament, with Queiroz leading Egypt to this year's Africa Cup of Nations final.

    They were defeated in that game on penalties by Senegal, and Egypt also lost by the same method to the same opposition in a World Cup play-off, with Queiroz departing and returning to the helm with Iran in September.

  • Barcelona boss Xavi reveals he turned down opportunity to join Brazil Barcelona boss Xavi reveals he turned down opportunity to join Brazil

    Barcelona boss Xavi has revealed he was offered a role as part of Brazil's backroom team ahead of the World Cup, but turned it down to hold out for the top job with the Blaugrana.

    The former Spain international succeeded Ronald Koeman last year in charge at Camp Nou, and has helped to revive fortunes at the Catalan side since his arrival.

    Though his team have slipped into the Europa League for a second season running, they remain competitive in the domestic top-flight, sitting two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid at the World Cup break.

    Xavi has revealed he was approached by Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Rogerio Caboclo over a role with the Selecao during his time in charge at Al Sadd, but that he turned them down to hold out for Barca.

    "It was an opportunity [that came] through the president of the CBF," Xavi told ESPN. 

    "They [came] to Qatar, and they talked to me, [and asked if] I could be part of Tite's staff.

    "But I wanted to be a coach, not an assistant. My desire was to be a coach.

    "It would be a tremendous opportunity - it was [a chance] to make history, to be the first European to work in the Brazilian national team.

    "But, at that moment, it did not happen. I was clear that I wanted to be coach of Barcelona, ​​which was my dream, and here I am."

    However, Xavi teased he would not rule out taking up the chance if it was offered again, adding: "You never know. It would be a spectacular opportunity.

    "But my intention was to take over Barcelona. You never know about the future [though]. I'm working hard, and you can't rule anything out."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.