Real Madrid star Antonio Rudiger is excited to face his ‘old friends’ when his current team takes on his former side Chelsea in the Champions League once again.

For the third straight year, the European giants have been drawn against each other in the competition. They met for the first time in the semi-finals of the 2020-21 season, where Chelsea prevailed 3-1 on aggregate en route to winning the competition.

The next year, Real Madrid exacted revenge by knocking out the holders in the quarterfinals, winning 5-4 on aggregate. Rudiger played in all four clashes with the Blues, scoring at the Santiago Bernabeu last year.

He switched sides last summer but is relishing the prospect of facing Chelsea. The German tweeted (via Metro):

“This will be very special – Can’t wait to see so many friends again.”

Rudiger spent five years at Chelsea, making 203 appearances, including 133 in the Premier League, and won five titles, establishing himself as a club legend. However, he isn’t the only former Blues player who will be coming up against their old team next month, as Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois are also in the group.

Courtois left Chelsea for Real Madrid in 2018, while Hazard followed suit a year later. Both have played the Blues in the last two ties with Madrid.

Real Madrid host Chelsea in the first leg of the quarterfinals on April 12 followed by the return leg at Stamford Bridge six days later. The winner of the tie will face Manchester City or Bayern Munich for a place in the final.

Real Madrid versus Chelsea goes from rarity to annual fest

Till April 2021, Madrid and Chelsea had not met each other in the Champions League despite being regular participants.

Hence, there was an air of excitement when the pair were drawn against each other in the last four of the competition for the first time, two years ago. In 2022, the sides met once more for a two-legged tie, and now, for the third straight year, the European giants will lock horns.