The Champions League knockout round still won’t begin for another few weeks, but recent developments around the top European sides are making those round-of-16 ties all the more intriguing.
For one, Borussia Dortmund are looking a lot more dangerous after Erling Braut Haaland’s brilliant display on his Bundesliga debut.
Meanwhile, their opponents Paris Saint-Germain are in the middle of a big transfer saga, with Edinson Cavani wanting out and possibly landing on another Champions League contender.
And if that isn’t enough striker news, Barcelona are reportedly planning to add another attacking option with Luis Suarez set to miss their round-of-16 matchup against Napoli.
So with less than a month to go before the start of the knockout round, let’s take a closer look at three big news stories concerning the Champions League and how they figure to affect the different ties.
Haaland addition makes Dortmund more dangerous
It certainly didn’t take long for Erling Braut Haaland to make his mark at Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old burst onto the scene by scoring a hat-trick in Dortmund’s come-from-behind win over Augsburg.
SBOTOP currently have Dortmund priced at 55.00 to win the Champions League, but Haaland’s addition has made them a much more appealing dark horse contender.
With Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Thorgan Hazard, Dortmund suddenly have one of the more dangerous attacking units in the tournament.
Haaland has already proven this season what he is capable of in the competition. He also scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut against Genk and netted eight times in six group-stage appearances as Red Bull Salzburg just barely missed out on the last 16.
The teenager is clearly not fazed by the big stage and will relish the chance to lead the line against PSG. Paris manager — and former Dortmund boss — Thomas Tuchel will certainly have his hands full trying to keep Haaland from producing some Champions League 2020 highlights at his team’s expense.
Cavani wants PSG exit, linked with Atletico, England clubs
Speaking of PSG, they have some transfer drama to take care of at the moment. That’s because Edinson Cavani, the club’s all-time top goalscorer, has made it clear he wants out of Paris.
Cavani has lost his regular place in the side as Tuchel has gone in favour of playing the “Fantastic Four” — Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi, and Angel Di Maria — in attack.
There is no shortage of suitors for Cavani’s services. Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked, while a number of English clubs — Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United — have also been mentioned as potential destinations.
But when asked about Cavani’s future in France, Tuchel said he is all for the Uruguayan staying.
“I always said I like this squad. We do not want to lose any player during the transfer window. Today, Edinson is my player. I am glad it is the case. If that changes, we will adapt.”
Cavani has scored just five goals in 14 appearances this season amid some injury problems. Nonetheless, the 33-year-old still has something left to offer and has the ability to make an impact if he does arrive at Atletico, Chelsea, or Tottenham, especially with Harry Kane out injured.
Striker-needy Barcelona linked with Rodrigo, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Barcelona also have a striker injury to deal with as Luis Suarez will miss four months due to knee surgery. That means the Uruguayan will miss both legs against Napoli, leaving new Barca manager Quique Setien — who took over for the sacked Ernesto Valverde — short of options.
As a result, Barca plan to bring in another striker during the transfer window. Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno are two names that have been linked with the Catalans.
Aubameyang has had a fine season at Arsenal, scoring 16 goals in 26 appearances. Meanwhile, Rodrigo has just two goals in 17 La Liga appearances, with two more in the Champions League. Although, one of those goals sent Valencia to the round of 16.
But despite Rodrigo’s lack of goal production, Valencia are unlikely to let him go, especially since they have a legitimate shot to defeat Atalanta and progress to the quarter-finals.
Landing another top striker like Aubameyang would certainly help improve Barcelona’s Champions League 2020 campaign. But even if they don’t get an Aubameyang or Rodrigo, Barcelona are still a strong team to get past a struggling Napoli side. Messi can play in a false nine role if needed, while Antoine Griezmann is obviously capable of leading the line.
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