Manchester City learned their Champions League fate on Friday morning, and there could be some reunions on the cards.
After seeing off RB Leipzig 8-1 on aggregate in the last-16, Pep Guardiola’s side will take on German opposition again in the quarter-finals, this time in the shape of Bayern Munich.
City will welcome the Bundesliga champions to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg on either April 11th or 12th, before travelling to Bavaria a week later for the second leg.
Should City successfully navigate the tie then they will face either Real Madrid or Chelsea in the semi-finals. One of Benfica, Inter Milan, AC Milan or Napoli will play in the final in Istanbul on June 10th.
City have faced Bayern a number of times in the Champions League over the years, but the upcoming meeting promise to carry a little extra spice.
That’s because City will be reunited not only with former blue Leroy Sane, but on-loan full-back Joao Cancelo.
The Portuguese international joined Bayern on a six-month loan in what was arguably the shock of the January transfer window.
While Premier League rules prevent loanees from facing their parent club, such rules do not apply in UEFA competitions.
Also, since 2018 UEFA has allowed players to represent two different clubs in the same European campaign. Therefore, Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann will be able to select Cancelo against City.
Over the past couple of seasons Cancelo established himself as one of City’s key creative players, but in the weeks following the 2022 World Cup it became clear that something wasn’t right.
The 28-year-old found himself benched for much of January, with Pep Guardiola favouring Nathan Ake and youngster Rico Lewis in the full-back positions.
Cancelo reacted badly to his lack of game time, and City’s staff became concerned that his negative attitude would affect the whole group.
Around the same time Guardiola publicly criticised the mood among his squad, so an unexpected exit was the only workable solution.
When Cancelo told the club that he wanted to leave and Bayern made a loan offer, City did not stand in his way.
The loan agreement includes a £61 million purchase option, but recent reports have suggested that Bayern do not intend to keep Cancelo.
The player is not a natural fit for Nagelsmann’s system, as the coach plays a three-man defence without full-backs.
Whether Cancelo makes the starting XI against City remains to be seen.