Borussia Dortmund start a tough UEFA Champions League Group F with a formidable-looking fixture away to French champions PSG. However, with bags of firepower and experience, BVB have what it takes to secure a vital win...
The Bundesliga runners-up start the group with arguably the trickiest fixture of all away in Paris, but the Black and Yellows have what it takes to make a flying start in the group of death. Here's why:
1) Formidable firepower
One of the defining trends to the dramatic second half of the last Bundesliga season was the men in Black and Yellow busily banging in goal after goal as they launched an audacious bid to claim the title. Some 52 goals were bashed in over the 17 final league matches - by far and away the most in the league.
Watch: Dortmund's best skills and goals in 2022/23
Their start to this season may have been modest, but all of the key cogs in their goalscoring machine remain in place. Donyell Malen has seamlessly continued his incredible scoring form in the spring with three strikes in Dortmund's first four league games. Sebastien Haller is raring to build on his staggering Champions League record of 11 goals in 10 appearances. Karim Adeyemi likewise boasts six strikes in the competition already, with memories fresh of his superb solo goal against Chelsea in last season's last 16.
An additional option has arrived too in the imposing shape of Niclas Füllkrug, joint top scorer in last season's Bundesliga. The bustling centre-forward might just be a man made for Champions League nights, able to provide the clinical finishing touch to BVB's rapid breaks forward. Gio Reyna is also returning to the fold at a perfect time having missed the start of the season through injury. After five goals and one assist as a substitute in the first half of 2023, the 20-year-old American could prove to be the surprise card up Dortmund's sleeves in Paris.
2) Experience is key
One of the perennial debates in football is the value of youthful verve versus the wisdom of experience. In truth, both have their merits in different circumstances, but an away Champions League night at a big-name club has to be an assignment that calls for well-versed operators. While Dortmund have blended youth with experience in the recent past, there is no doubt they have taken a turn towards the latter this season.
By recruiting 30-year-old Füllkrug and 29-year-old former Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer to fill Jude Bellingham's midfield role, Dortmund have more of a look of a team that has been around the block. Indeed, the average age of their starting XI for their season opener against Cologne was a mature 28.8 years old - a big increase on 25.6 years old for their first Bundesliga match a year previously. PSG opened their Ligue 1 campaign with a team averaging 24.8 years old - and if it becomes a tight battle in Paris we will expect BVB's extra know-how to give them a crucial advantage.
Watch: Every Füllkrug goal last season
3) Happy travellers
If the 2022/23 Champions League is anything to go by, Dortmund have absolutely nothing to fear from making the journey to Paris. BVB smashed six goals in their three away group stage fixtures at this time last year (compared to four in three home matches), and shied away from nobody.
A match at eventual tournament winners Manchester City was their first away date last autumn, but the Black and Yellows were undaunted and went closer than anyone to inflicting a Champions League defeat on the all-conquering Citizens. A Jude Bellingham opener was unanswered until the 80th minute, when two late goals clinched a narrow win for the hosts.
The next time Dortmund packed their bags for a continental journey, the result was even more spectacular - a 4-1 win at eventual Europa League winners Sevilla.
4) Kolo no-goal Muani
Granted, we were fortunate enough to see in the Bundesliga last season just what a phenomenal attacker Randal Kolo Muani is. Dortmund's defenders have a healthy knack of keeping PSG's recent signing in check, however. The Frenchman failed to find the scoresheet entirely in his two encounters with Dortmund while at Eintracht Frankfurt, which BVB won 2-1 and 4-0.
Clearly Dortmund's defence is going to have its hands full in Paris regardless, with a certain Kylian Mbappe and fellow new signing Ousmane Dembele - of course once of Dortmund - to try to keep quiet. Given the expectation Kolo Muani immediately carries following the departures of Lionel Messi and Neymar, it is a real asset to know the way to stop him scoring, however.
5) Pressure off
Dortmund are a club very capable of making their mark in the Champions League - as memories of their triumph in 1997 and appearance in the 2013 final testify. They will be confident of making it through a very challenging group and reaching the latter stages for a fifth time in the last six seasons. Once there, they might just start to dream of an outside challenge for the crown.
PSG, in contrast, are a club that have been explicitly aiming to win the Champions League ever since the current owners arrived in 2012. The fact that they are yet to achieve that has increased the pressure on them each campaign. With a new coach, Luis Enrique, and new strategy with Kolo Muani and Dembele brought in and the giant stars of Messi and Neymar moved on, they will be determined to start on the right note. Dortmund stand ready to exploit any uneasiness resulting from that kind of pressure.
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