Istanbul: Galatasaray’s Didier Drogba will be full of emotions when he strides out to face former club Chelsea on Wednesday but Jose Mourinho knows the striker will be as clinical as ever on the field.
The Champions League last-16 first-leg clash in Istanbul on Wednesday is the first time the Ivorian has been on the pitch with the Blues since scoring the winning penalty when Chelsea lifted the trophy in May 2012.
The 35-year-old, who media reports say could return to the London club as striker coach, is Chelsea’s record European scorer with 34 goals in 69 games.
Including the spot kick in the Munich shootout and his header late in normal time, he has also bagged nine goals in nine domestic and European finals. His sizeable contribution to the club’s recent history is apparent from the number of posters of him still dotted around Stamford Bridge.
In another important round of 16 first leg tie, Schalke 04 will host nine-time European champions Real Madrid at Gelsenkirchen in Germany. The match will be very significant for Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has gone on to become one of the Bundesliga’s most prolific strikers since he was shunned at Real Madrid. He will finally have a chance on Wednesday to show his former club what they are missing.
The Dutchman, who has scored 51 goals in 89 league appearances for the German side, is looking forward to it as much as anyone.
Real scored 20 goals in the group stage, with a record nine coming from Cristiano Ronaldo, and they dropped only two points. They are unbeaten in their last 26 games in all competitions, a run stretching back to October.
However, they have a very poor record in Germany with only one win in 25 previous visits and their 18 defeats included last season’s humiliating 1-4 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals.
Drogba moved to Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho’s first season, and stayed after the Portuguese departed in 2007. He left the club a few days after their Champions League triumph, saying he had achieved everything he wanted with Chelsea, before spending a few months playing in China and then moving on to Turkey.
Real bought Huntelaar from Ajax for $37.1 million in January 2009 and he scored a respectable eight goals in 20 appearances, yet it failed to impress one of the world’s most demanding clubs. Just eight months later, he was sold to AC Milan for 15 million euros after Florentino Perez returned as Real president and cleared out the Dutch contingent, which also included Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.