by Rahul Asnani
All eyes will be on Erling Haaland as Thomas Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain visit Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday. It will be the 19-year-old Norwegian’s first outing on the continental stage after his high-profile move from Red Bull Salzburg. With the French champions bringing the heavy artillery in the form of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, it could be a mouthwatering tie.
Dortmund managed to get hold of the youngster in the winter transfer window after warding off Manchester United’s interest. Haaland had caught the eye, bagging 16 goals and eight assists in just 14 games for Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga. But it was his exploits in this season’s Champions League, where he managed eight goals in the group stage, scoring in five out of six games including a hat-trick, that singled him out as a marked man.
WASTING NO TIME
Haaland wasted little time in finding the net repeatedly in a higher-standard league. He bagged a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut against FC Augsburg, becoming the first substitute to do so in his first match in the German top division. He bagged a brace in his next game against FC Köln, thus scoring five goals in less than 90 minutes played for the club. The Norwegian has managed eight goals and an assist in just five appearances for the Black and Yellow so far.
8 goals in 305 Bundesliga minutes is the best minutes-per-goal ratio (38) of all players with at least 5 goals in Bundesliga history ⚽
What’s next? pic.twitter.com/iB8mKAZPM0
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 17, 2020
With the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard, Haaland is part of a potent combination bound to give PSG a lot of headaches over the two legs of the tie.
They will be on opposite sides on Tuesday, but Haaland looks at French prodigy Mbappe as an icon to emulate. “When I was in Salzburg, I started scoring goals there, but if I’m realistic, I look at Kylian Mbappe, he’s scoring, he’s banging in goals in Ligue 1, so you know you can always reach a higher level in football.”
Veteran PSG centre-half Thiago Silva will have to marshall the defence against the blistering attack of the German side. They will have their task cut out after the French side bowed out of the competition in the Round of 16 in the last few seasons.
Of late, Tuchel has been setting up PSG in a 4-2-2-2 formation, allowing more options in attack. However, the pace at Borussia Dortmund’s disposal poses threat to their defence, which has been known to be caught short on occasions. Tuchel has tested a three-man midfield in the past, pushing Marquinhos up to a holding midfielder role, offering defensive stability which could be key against Haaland and Sancho. Both teams are set up to press high and with the attacking talent on show, the contest has all the makings of a Champions League classic.
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