AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud believes it will be a “special game” when he lines up against former club Chelsea in the Champions League.
Giroud returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since departing the Blues on a free transfer at the end of the 2020-21 season.
The 36-year-old spent three-and-a-half years with the Premier League side; scoring 39 goals in 119 appearances across all competitions.
He notably scored 11 times – then the highest tally by a French player during a single European season – as Chelsea won the Europa League in 2019, while adding another six during their Champions League-winning campaign two years later.
And Giroud is excited to be returning to the English capital, where he also scored 105 goals in 253 appearances for Arsenal between 2012 and 2018.
“I think it’ll be a special game for the team because it’s a great Champions League match-up,” the France international told Milan Channel.
“It’s also personally for me, as I spent nine years in London playing for Arsenal and Chelsea, so I expect it to be a great game.
“It’s always a pleasure when the people you met while playing for your former clubs have so much respect for you, also because I want to be seen not only as a good player on the pitch, but also a good person off it.
“I have many friends in London. Chelsea have just one point so far, so they will play aggressively and in an energetic way, aiming for the win, so we expect a tough game.
“I have a lot of hope for our Champions League journey this season. I am very proud of this squad and I think we can do well with this group of players in the Champions League.
“This match can also give the team great confidence if we win, to boost us for the next games.”
Having collected four points from their opening two games, Milan will remain top of Group E with victory at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea are targeting their first win of the campaign under Graham Potter.
Head coach Stefano Pioli has urged the Rossoneri to asset their authority on the contest as they look to launch a genuine title challenge, with the most recent of their seven triumphs coming in 2007.
“Chelsea won the Champions League a short time ago. From there, it has strengthened again, and the level is very high,” he said. “But we want to try to be there, at that level.
“Chelsea changed coach, and so we’ll face a highly motivated team. Very simply, either we dominate the game, or the other team will dominate us.
“We want to take control of the match, knowing full well we are up against an opponent with great quality, who have a rapid attacking unit with good technique, so we have to be solid and focused in defence.
“What matters though is that we play with our spirit and try to attack, to be dangerous, because that’s what we can do and what we want to do.”