Lazio have more than Erling Haaland to worry about when Borussia Dortmund visit the Stadio Olimpico in UEFA Champions League Group F. bundesliga.com presents five reasons why BVB will leave the Eternal City will all three points...
1) The form book
A simple gauge of how big a chance Dortmund have of beating the Biancocelesti comes from a glance at the form book. This makes much happier reading for Lucien Favre than it does for his opposite number Simone Inzaghi.
The Black-Yellows kicked things off with a 5-0 win at Duisburg in the first round of the DFB Cup, before hitting the ground running in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. Though they lost their next Bundesliga fixture 2-0 at Augsburg and fell 3-2 to Bayern Munich in the Supercup, they bounced back in style with a 4-0 win over Freiburg and a 1-0 win at Hoffenheim at the weekend.
Watch: Hoffenheim 0-1 Dortmund - in 60 seconds!
Lazio have made an indifferent start to the Serie A season, on the other hand. A 2-0 win on the opening day at Cagliari was followed by a crushing 4-1 defeat at home to Atalanta, before they scrambled a somewhat fortunate point in a 1-1 draw at home to Inter Milan. Last season's fourth-placed side in Serie A have yet to win at home this season, and they went down 3-0 at Sampdoria on Saturday.
2) Erling Haaland vs. Ciro Immobile
Ciro Immobile will need little introduction to followers of the Bundesliga, although Dortmund fans may not have too many poignant memories of his time in Germany. The Italian forward has since proven why the Westphalians invested heavily to sign him from Torino in 2014, though, with 126 goals in 181 games for Lazio compared to 10 goals in 34 games for BVB.
Haaland has fared significantly better, with 17 goals in his first 19 games in Dortmund colours. That haul includes two in two Champions League outings for the Bundesliga club, building on the eight he hit for RB Salzburg, and eclipsing the four Immobile scored in six European fixtures for Dortmund. Immobile may have 10 years on Haaland, but it's the Dortmund striker - with a team-leading five strikes in all competitions already this term (Immobile has one) - who comes up trumps for goals.
3) Sancho, Reus, Reyna and more
It's little wonder Haaland has been filling his boots at Dortmund. Jadon Sancho was the club's chief supplier once more last season with 16 assists supplementing his 17 goals. Reus was on for a best-ever return, posting 11 goals and five assists through the first 19 games of 2019/20 before injury struck, in turn paving the way for Gio Reyna's first-team splash.
After becoming the youngest US national to debut and assist a goal in Champions League history with his pass for Haaland against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, the "American dream" has nailed down his spot behind Haaland in the Dortmund attack in double-quick time. Set to turn 18 on 13 November 2020, he's already scored two, whilst assisting four in five competitive starts in all competitions so far this term.
And then there's the likes of Bundesliga September Rookie of the Month Jude Bellingham, Julian Brandt, Raphael Guerreiro, Thorgan Hazard and 15-year-old goal machine Youssoufa Moukoko, who could make his tournament debut a week after Reyna legally becomes a man...
Watch: Dortmund - the home of the next generation
4) Lucien Favre vs. Simone Inzaghi
Experience is a recurring theme here, and once again it is in Dortmund's favour when considering the men in the dugouts. Favre has quite a curriculum, even if – aside from the German Supercup in 2019 – he doesn't have much silverware to go with the two Swiss League titles he won with Zurich in 2006 and 2007.
Nevertheless, he has had a positive impact wherever he has been, guiding Hertha Berlin to the brink of Champions League qualification in 2009, taking that next step with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012 and then leading French club Nice into the Champions League in his first season there in 2017. Overall, Favre has overseen 25 Champions League fixtures as Inzaghi prepares for his very first.
Lazio's 44-year-old Italian coach deserves praise for turning around Lazio's fortunes in recent years, including challenging perennial champions Juventus for the Scudetto last season, before a late-season collapse saw them fall to fourth, but when it comes to technical and tactical nous at the highest level, he still has a long way to go to catch Favre.
5) German jinx
Not many clubs have a favourable record against German sides, and Lazio are not one of them. In 14 previous meetings with Bundesliga opposition, they have won just six times.
Although they beat VfB Stuttgart home and away in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League, their more recent meetings with German opposition – including that 2015 Champions League play-off with Leverkusen – have ended in disappointment. Eintracht Frankfurt could give Dortmund some tips on how to beat the Biancocelesti, with a 2-1 win in Rome in December 2018.
That came after the Eagles had won 4-1 on home soil against a side which is likely to look quite similar to the one Inzaghi fields this week, with at least six survivors from that defeat expected to start against Dortmund.
Frame that with Dortmund's recent joy against Italian opponents, including a 3-2 win over Inter Milan last season and 4-3 aggregate victory over Atalanta in the last 32 of the 2017/18 Europa League, and you have another strong reason as to why Dortmund will beat Lazio and get their Champions League campaign off to a flyer.