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Olivier Giroud sends message to Chelsea fans ahead Ac Milan clash

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Olivier Giroud has shared his pride at returning to Stamford Bridge with his AC Milan teammates ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League encounter between the Rossoneri and his former club Chelsea.

The France international scored 39 goals in 119 appearances for the Blues and was an unused substitute in the 2021 Champions League final as Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 to lift the trophy for the second time.

“I hope to have a good welcome, because I spent a nice three and a half years here with trophies,” said Giroud. “I left the club in good terms, so let’s see. Hopefully.”

While he holds fond memories of his time at the club, Giroud did admit that he is prepared to give his all for the Italian side and spoke of his immense pride in representing the club ahead of the contest.

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“When we were walking around the pitch I told my teammates I’m very proud to come here with the great Milan to play in the Champions League, to play in our colours and to defend our badge.”

The 36-year-old proved vital to Milan last season and scored 11 goals, including a brace against arch-rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina and on the final day of the season to secure the Serie A title – Milan’s first since 2010/11.

The forward also helped Chelsea win the FA Cup and Europa League during his time in West London and will almost certainly receive a warm reception from the home crowd ahead of new manager Graham Potter’s third game in charge.

“I know the boys, I played there with so many of them, but they changed the manager so I don’t really know how they are going to play,” Giroud added.

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He likely won’t be the only former Arsenal striker on the pitch either, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to line-up for Chelsea after scoring his first goal for the club during Saturday’s away win against Crystal Palace.

Despite the commonality, Giroud insisted that there is no rivalry between him and Chelsea’s latest cross-rivalry recruit.

“I only care that my team wins,” he explained

“He’s a very good striker, I know him very well. Of course we both played for Arsenal but that’s the only similarity between us, because we are completely different players.”

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Milan head into the game top of Champions League Group E on four points while Chelsea sit bottom. They’ve earned just a single point in Europe so far after a 1-0 away defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, which proved to be Thomas Tuchel’s last match in charge of the club, and last month’s 1-1 home draw against Red Bull Salzburg.

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Champions League

How can I watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw?

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So, the excitement of the group stage is over. Having witnessed some European powers breeze through their groups and others progress by the skin of their teeth, we can now look forward to the thrill and the ‘there’s nothing quite like it’-feeling of Champions League knockout football.

Here’s all you need to know about the Champions League round of 16.

The draw for the first round of this campaign’s Champions League knockout phase will take place on Monday 7 November at 11:00 (GMT).

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How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the UK

How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the United States and Canada

The eight group winners and the eight second-placed sides will feature in the Champions League round of 16 stage.

All four English teams that entered the competition have made it through to the knockout phase, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City joining Napoli, Porto, Bayern Munich, Benfica and reigning champions Real Madrid as the eight seeded sides.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are joined by Club Brugge, Inter, Eintracht Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain as the unseeded sides.

The table-toppers and runners-up will be drawn against each other – apart from those that competed in the same group and those from the same Associations.

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We’ll be able to see these European heavyweights lock horns after the turn of the year, with the first legs set to be played over the 14 and 15 February, and the second legs over the 21 and 22.

We’ve got to get through a World Cup first, though.



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Who could Tottenham face in the 2022.23 Champions League knockout stages?

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After a two-year absence from the Champions League knockout stages, Tottenham Hotspur will return to the competition’s last 16 this campaign.

Spurs famously earned a runner-up finish in 2018/19 before crashing out at the round-of-16 stage with a 4-0 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig the following year. After a sixth-placed Premier League finish in 2019/20 to boot, the 2020/21 season saw them bow out at the same stage in the Europa League before a humiliating group-stage exit from the Europa Conference League last term.

But, after topping a very competitive Group D this time around, all that seems irrelevant now. So, who could Tottenham face in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League?

Tottenham’s return to Europe’s top table has yielded mixed results.

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Frustration was the prevalent theme of their Matchday 1 bout with Marseille, although the French giants were eventually put to the sword by Richarlison’s first two Spurs goals to ensure Antonio Conte’s side enjoyed a winning return to the Champions League.

Things subsequently got a little murkier for Conte’s men as a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Club and a goalless draw with Eintracht Frankfurt left them second in the group just a point above the basement spot.

Amid a drop in domestic form, however, came results in Europe. Having earned a 3-2 victory over Frankfurt when welcoming the German outfit to north London on Matchday 4, Spurs’ 1-1 tie with Sporting on Matchday 5 left Group D wide open before its conclusion.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s dramatic crashing strike in the final seconds of Conte’s side’s visit to the French Riviera, however, ensured they flew back to England from the Stade Velodrome with a table-topping 2-1 comeback victory.

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Tottenham have shared the goals around somewhat in this year’s Champions League campaign, with Son Heung-min and Richarlison both tied on two strikes to top their scoring charts, while Ivan Perisic boasts a squad-leading three assists.

As group winners (just about), Spurs can look forward to a clash with one of the eight runners-up from the group stage.

This leaves a few very tasty options for the neutrals to look forward to. Being from the same Association, we won’t see Tottenham face Liverpool in a rematch of the 2019 final, although we could see them battle Leipzig in a repeat of that last-16 demolition (of Spurs) back in 2020.

Other intriguing matchups include potential battles with either of the Milan teams, Borussia Dortmund or Paris Saint-Germain, while Club Brugge also represent potential opponents.

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Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: ‘My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid’

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Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: 'My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid'

Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who we rank among the strong competitors for Ballon d’Or next year, has stood up on his greatest dream.

In a meeting with Corriere dello Sport, Kvaratskhelia: “My biggest dream? To win the Champions League. With who? With Real Madrid.

“Since I was a kid, I was a Real Madrid fan. Always watched their games,” the winger added in the interview just before joining Napoli for just €10m from Dinamo Batumi.

The Georgian technician has registered as many as 8 goals and 10 assists in just 17 games for the Neapolitans this season.

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It’s why many top clubs seem to have their sights set on the Georgian international. But the man of the moment only dreams of Real Madrid.

Source: Corriere dello Sport (h/t Total Cristiano @ Twitter)
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