Five former AS Monaco FC players will be retreading familiar ground when FC Barcelona take on Sevilla FC in the UEFA Super Cup match at Stade Louis II.
The UEFA Super Cup is traditionally the curtain-raiser to the European football season but the build-up to the meeting between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC in Monaco has been marked by a remembrance of things past.
No fewer than five players likely to be involved in the match formerly played for AS Monaco FC - four from UEFA Champions League holders Barcelona and one from UEFA Cup winners Sevilla. Thus, a uniquely all-Spanish encounter will have further spice as Lilian Thuram, Javier Saviola, Rafael Márquez and Ludovic Giuly for Barça, and Ernesto Chevantón from Sevilla, seek a happy homecoming.
Thuram, a close-season signing from Juventus, played in the principality between 1991 and 1996. Also at Barça, Saviola could find himself up against the club where he spent last season on loan, at the Stade Louis II ground where he had played for Monaco in 2004/05, also temporarily. Meanwhile, Giuly's last game in Monaco colours was the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League final, the culmination of six campaigns on the Cote d'Azur.
The French international midfielder's dazzling displays there earned him the sobriquet 'le petit prince de Monaco', and he is delighted to be back. "It is great to be here in Monaco, a real pleasure," he said. "I have good memories of my time, particularly our matches in the Champions League against Real Madrid [CF]. It will be a new experience for me being here with Barcelona. Our objective is to win, which will be very difficult against Sevilla. We have to be fully concentrated and focused as we want to win every match, starting tomorrow. It should be a great game."
Barça's dashing Mexico defender Márquez was a contemporary of Giuly in Monte Carlo, winning the league in his first season with the club he joined as a 20-year-old in 1999. He said: "I played here for four years, it was my first step in European football and that's why I have a large place in my heart for Monaco." By contrast, Sevilla's summer signing Ernesto Chevantón had a less distinguished stay, being hampered by several knee injuries although he did manage 20 goals in 50 games over two campaigns. Now debuting for the Andalusian outfit, the Uruguay forward is desperate to impress.
"I hope this will be the first time I win a trophy at the Stade Louis II, and the first of many titles with Sevilla," Chevantón said. "I always hoped I would win something during my time with Monaco and it is ironic that, on Friday, I will have an opportunity to do so in my first game for Sevilla. It will be strange to be here with a different club because until recently I was a local. I want to win this match because it will be my first trophy for Sevilla and the first of my career."