Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham are just two of the reasons Borussia Dortmund should make short work of Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League. Allow bundesliga.com to elaborate...
1) The Haaland factor
Robert Lewandowski received his European Golden Shoe last Wednesday following a barely fathomable 41-goal season with Bayern Munich, but he figures to have fierce competition for the accolade this term from Haaland, who is currently on the same Bundesliga goal-haul of seven. Roles are reversed in the Champions League, where Haaland took Lewandowski's crown thanks to a tournament-leading 10 goals last season. On target against Besiktas on Matchday 1 of the new European campaign, the 21-year-old is the youngest player to reach 21 goals in the Champions League, and has achieved the feat in 10 games fewer than any other player, with Ruud van Nistelrooy the next closest (27 appearances). The only caveat to Haaland extending that run against Sporting is his ability to shake off a muscular niggle that kept him out of action over the weekend.
Watch: Haaland is fresh off winning his fourth Bundesliga Player of the Month award
2) Bellingham blossoming
Bellingham teed up Haaland in Istanbul, having himself opened the scoring with his second Champions League goal. It was an historic one at that - the 18-year-old now ranks as the youngest player to score in two consecutive Champions League games, beating Kylian Mbappe’s previous record by seven days. He returns to the European stage very much in the form of his life, rivalling Bayern counterpart Leon Goretzka in the box-to-box stakes. Nine fixtures into 2021/22, the England international is Dortmund's top dog for intensive runs (417) and is third team-wide for combined goals (two) and assists (four).
3) The Belgian Beckham & Co.
Bellingham's also quite the personality. While Thomas Meunier was conducting post-match interviews on the pitch following BVB's 4-2 win over Union Berlin on Bundesliga Matchday 5, the ex-Birmingham City youngster looked down a nearby camera to dub his teammate the "Belgian Beckham", in a tribute to the former England captain. Meunier had just whipped in his third assist of the competitive campaign, joining the likes of captain Marco Reus, Portugal international Raphael Guerreiro and US teen Gio Reyna on Dortmund's 12-man list of scorers and/or providers - a joint-high among Bundesliga-based teams in 2021/22. Clearly, stopping Haaland is only half the battle...
4) History on their side
Lisbon have more than individual hot streaks to contend with at the Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund boast a perfect home record against Portuguese visitors in UEFA competition, with six wins from six matches, 17 goals scored and only two conceded. Sporting have lost seven of their last eight away matches in the Champions League group stage, and suffered 12 defeats in their 13 previous games away to German clubs, the exception being a goalless draw at Bayern in the 2006/07 groups. The defending Portuguese league and cup champions have since suffered six defeats on German soil, shipping an average of three goals per game.
5) Wounded yet bolstered animal
With such a varied arsenal of attacking riches, it's little wonder Dortmund have outscored opposition teams in six of their nine competitive fixtures so far this season. They're second only to Bayern for team goals in the Bundesliga (23 compared to 17), and have only failed to score once, in Saturday's 1-0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach - a game Haaland, Reus and Reyna missed through injury. With Haaland and Reus on the mend, a Lisbon side thrashed 5-1 by Ajax in their Group C opener better brace themselves for another bruising night in Dortmund.