Borussia Dortmund have reason to be confident when they come up against some familiar faces in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, when they take on a Manchester City side containing former star striker Erling Haaland and led by ex-Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola.
bundesliga.com gives five reasons why Dortmund will leave Manchester with all three points...
1. Better the devil you know
Haaland has not only hit the ground running since his move to Manchester, he's positively torn it up as a City player. The 22-year-old has 10 goals from his first six league matches in England and he also hit a double on his Champions League debut for the club as they romped past Sevilla on Matchday 1.
It is an almost identical start to that which he enjoyed in Dortmund, where the Norwegian goal-machine hit a hat-trick on his debut (from the bench!) and struck a total of nine times in his first six Bundesliga appearances. But, while Haaland is undeniably a goal-scoring freight train, Dortmund's defence should feel capable of putting on the brakes.
Watch: All 62 Haaland goals in the Bundesliga
After all, the likes of Mats Hummels, Gregor Kobel and the rest of Haaland's former Dortmund teammates went up against him in training day-in, day-out for two-and-a-half-years together. Then there are the likes of Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle, who may be new to the club, but regularly pitted their wits against Haaland previously for both Freiburg and Bayern Munich, respectively. If anyone has a formula to stop the barnstorming striker, it should be his former employers.
2. Solid at the back
Thanks to Haaland's supreme start to life in Manchester, Guardiola's side have been piling up the goals so far this term. They have hit four or more in half of their eight matches in all competitions and are averaging more than 3.1 goals per game. In Dortmund, however, they will face a defence that is looking water-tight under Edin Terzic.
They kept three successive clean sheets in wins over Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim and then Copenhagen - while conceding just three times up to the weekend, when that was doubled against Leipzig and former coach Marco Rose - further proof of what some insider knowledge can do.
For all their attacking majesty in recent years, Dortmund have developed an unwanted reputation for being "a bit soft" at the back and the club have been addressing this head on with the arrivals of Kobel, Schlotterbeck and Süle in the past two seasons. It looks to be paying off and a true test of their newfound defensive solidity will come against City.
Watch: Borussia's back-line blooming
With Saturday’s lessons to be taken on board, and the determination to tighten the ship like it was looking earlier this season reinforced, Dortmund will be doubling up efforts to keep City out and pick up a second straight clean sheet in Europe.
3. Their own inside man
England international Jude Bellingham will know his compatriots inside out, which could prove a major bonus in stopping the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, in particular. He also relishes going up against his compatriots and was hailed by Guardiola the last time they met. “I can’t believe it, maybe he’s a liar!” Guardiola exclaimed when asked about Bellingham’s performances over the two legs. “He’s so good for 17 years old, he’s a fantastic player. There was one moment when he didn’t get the ball from central defenders, how he shouts and demands that ball to him at 17 means a lot. I spoke with his manager, Edin [Terzic], and he told me what you see in these two games is like every training session.”
It is emerging in almost every game too, with Bellingham scoring in Dortmund’s Champions League opener against Copenhagen, and you would not bet against him doing the same again in his home country, against a side whose defence he has already punctured once in 2021.
4. Flying under Terzic
Terzic was the man who last delivered silverware to Dortmund, in the shape of the 2021 DFB Cup, spearheaded by Haaland. That might not have been enough to keep him in a job, but BVB soon saw the error of their ways and recalled him to the club in the summer, and it is a decision they do not look likely to regret.
In his first six games, he has picked up 12 points, including a 3-1 win over high-flying Freiburg which makes BVB the only club to have beaten the Black Forest club so far this season and underlined their grit after going a goal down. They also eased into the second round of the DFB Cup with a 3-0 win at 1860 Munich, and that 3-0 win over Copenhagen got Dortmund off to a flyer in the Champions League.
Terzic may be a local boy with yellow and black in his blood but he also has experience coaching in the English Premier League as assistant at West Ham United. And now he has the BVB reins on a full-time basis, with the club backing him to the hilt, he is more motivated than ever to ensure that sole piece of silverware duplicates in the very near future.
5. Pep’s Bestia Negra
City manager Guardiola is not familiar with losing games. His record at Barcelona, Bayern and City speaks for itself. Of 767 games on the bench, he has won 568 and lost just 95. That equates to a win ratio of almost 75 per cent, or three wins in every four games.
The story is different against Dortmund, though. In 13 previous meetings with Die Schwarzgelben, he has won eight and lost four, drawing the other. His win ratio therefore drops to 60 per cent against BVB, with fewer sides in world football causing him more trouble.
Indeed, he has lost more times only against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Real Madrid – all clubs he has faced more frequently too. You can be sure that Guardiola will not be relishing facing a Bestia Negra; a side who have almost always caused his teams trouble down the years.
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