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Classy reunions mark matchday two

Marek Hamšík, Balázs Dzsudzsák and Stanislav Manolev are in line for journeys into their past as the drama gets amped up on UEFA Europa League matchday two.

Marek Hamšik after winning the 2013/14 Coppa Italia with Napoli
Marek Hamšik after winning the 2013/14 Coppa Italia with Napoli ©Getty Images

Loyalties may be stretched for SSC Napoli captain Marek Hamšík and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach as footballing heartstrings are plucked on UEFA Europa League matchday two.

In Group I, Slovak international Hamšík returns to the club where he started his career, having come through the ranks at ŠK Slovan Bratislava before leaving his home country – aged 17 – to join Brescia Calcio and then, in 2007, Napoli. If Hamšík is held in high regard in Naples, so too Favre at FC Zürich, the Swiss coach having led FCZ to their first Swiss title in 25 years in 2005/06. He successfully defended top spot the next season before moving on to Hertha BSC Berlin and now Mönchengladbach, who visit Zürich in Group A.

Further appointments with destiny are in the offing for Denmark defender Simon Kjær – who takes on his old team VfL Wolfsburg with LOSC Lille in Group H – and FC Dinamo Moskva's Hungarian winger Balázs Dzsudzsák and Bulgaria defender Stanislav Manolev, both lined up to face former employers PSV Eindhoven in Group E. Spare a thought, meanwhile, for Apollon Limassol FC's Marcos Gullón, who would have been due to meet his first club Villarreal CF in Group A but for a red card on matchday one which means he is suspended for the trip to Spain.

Trabzonspor and Legia met last season
Trabzonspor and Legia met last season©AFP/Getty Images

There will be auspicious reunions elsewhere on 2 October. Feyenoord tackle R. Standard de Liège in Group G, having gone on to win the 1973/74 UEFA Cup the last time they met – in the third round that season. Torino FC, meanwhile, overcame FC København 3-0 on aggregate in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup quarter-finals; a good Group B omen for the current Torino side, since they proceeded to their only European final that year, losing to AFC Ajax on away goals.

Other matchday two opponents who are previously acquainted include Tottenham Hotspur FC and Beşiktaş JK, and – as recently as last term – Trabzonspor AŞ and Legia Warszawa. Celtic FC play host to GNK Dinamo Zagreb for a third time, and FC Dynamo Kyiv welcome FC Steaua Bucureşti for the first time since losing 4-1 in Ukraine in a September 2006 UEFA Champions League game. Current Steaua assistant coach Nicolae Dică scored two of the visitors' goals that night, with current Dynamo boss Serhiy Rebrov the man on target for the Ukrainian team.

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