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Champions League: The Boy Haaland Is Something Special!

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain

This Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain always had the potential to be a thriller.

A simple look at the team sheets offered a glimpse of that.

And goals too. After all, PSG’s previous five games had contained 29 goals, while Dortmund’s matches had witnessed 27.

So, we were ready for a night of Champions League 2020 highlights with confidence seemingly high in both camps.

Despite selling many of their best players over the past decade, the official Bundesliga website was confident its own team could upset the free-spending Parisians.

But then again, that is exactly what its official Ligue 1 counterpart predicted also in the Signal Iduna Park.

 

Highlights of the game

What we ultimately got was a game which showed that, despite splashing the cash in a way few others can, PSG (and many other big hitters) missed a trick when Erling Braut Haaland went up for sale last month.

Of course, this tie is far from over and no doubt the Parisians are still the favourite to progress.

But it’s certain that this young Norwegian is a special talent who, with an injury-free spell, is destined for special things.

Since his arrival, he has scored 11 goals in seven games and Dortmund have scored 23 goals in their five Bundesliga games in 2020, hitting the net at least four times on four occasions.

None, though, have potentially been as important as the two he scored here. When the contest did see goals, they all arrived in a 10-minute spell.

First, the dangerous Achraf Hakimi produced some fine work down the right and his cross reached the Norwegian, who thrashed the ball home from close range.

Then, after Kylian Mbappe – who had been twice denied by another impressive showing from Roman Burki – produced his own moment of quality and squared for Neymar to tap home, Haaland decided to take centre stage again.

Within two minutes, in fact.

Substitute Gio Reyna ran into space and fed his fellow teenager, who unleashed a stunner which flew into the top corner.

An incredible strike worthy of winning any game and one which gave the Black and Yellows a slender lead ahead of their trip to Paris in three weeks’ time.

For PSG, knocked out at this stage for the past three seasons, most famously of all last season despite holding a 2-0 first leg lead, this was a blow. Although, it wasn’t necessarily a fatal one as they are desperate to finally make a big splash in Europe.

This was also their first defeat in the tournament this season. Thomas Tuchel, facing his former club here, won all but one of their six games in the group stage, drawing the other 2-2 at Real Madrid.

However, this was Haaland’s and  Dortmund’s night as they protected an unbeaten home run that stretches back to April last year.

Will it be enough to reach the last eight?

 

Key statistics

Haaland has scored eight Champions League goals in seven appearances this season (six for former club Red Bull Salzburg).

The Norwegian teenager has hit 39 goals in 29 competitive appearances in total in 2019/20, including 11 in seven since joining Dortmund in January.

Dortmund are the only Bundesliga team yet to lose at home in any competition this season.

Borussia Dortmund supporters cheered loud and proud for their squad in the Champions League
Borussia Dortmund fans forming the BVB logo on the stands

This was a Champions League debut for US youth international Reyna. At 17 years and 97 days, he is the youngest player to assist a goal in the Champions League since November 2007, when Bojan did for Barcelona, (aged 17 years, 91 days versus Lyon).

Hakimi registered his 10th assist of the season but his first in European competition.

Paris Saint-Germain have only won two of their past nine away games in the Champions League knockout stages, yet have won nine of their last 13 Champions League matches (drawn one, lost three) and have now scored in 31 consecutive games in the competition.

The only previous encounter between Borussia Dortmund and PSG was in the 2010/11 Europa League group stages – both games ended in a draw (1-1 in Dortmund, 0-0 in Paris).

Dortmund have made it past the Champions League round of 16 only once in the last five seasons. It was in 2016-17 under current PSG manager Tuchel.

Tuchel has won none of his six away games against Dortmund (drawn two, lost four), all five before tonight taking place when he was in charge of Mainz (2009-2014).

Dortmund’s last 24 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition.

PSG forward Mbappe has scored/assisted 31 goals in 31 Champions League games (19 goals, 12 assists).

 

What’s next?

Dortmund now revert to domestic duties with three Bundesliga fixtures before the second let in Paris. They are at Werder Bremen on Saturday (Feb 22) in the Bundesliga.

It’s the same for PSG who also have a French Cup match to contend with in the same period. They are next in action at home to Bordeaux in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

 

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