Axel Witsel is looking forward to facing Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria in the Champions League, while Roman Bürki is confident in Borussia Dortmund's own formidable firepower ahead of Tuesday's clash with Paris Saint-Germain at the Signal Iduna Park.
Ex-Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel will return to Germany for the first leg of a Last 16 tie that promises to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, and Witsel is licking his lips at the prospect of pitting his talents against the French champions.
“You play football to play games like this. The Champions League is already special. Yes, we’re playing against one of the top teams, but it’s why we love football,” the 31-year-old Belgium international told bundesliga.com.
“They’re a really good team, one of the top teams in Europe, but we have a lot of quality too, so it’s going to be a tough game. But if I take the performance against Barcelona as a reference, OK, we didn’t score, but we played really well. If we do the same, and we score…it’s going to be a tough game.”
Dortmund held Barcelona to a goalless draw in the group stage, keeping Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann at bay. Neymar has been suffering with a rib problem in recent weeks, but that that still leaves the BVB back line to cope with FIFA World Cup winner Mbappe and a Di Maria who has been in fine form.
Die Schwarzgelben will be without the injured Marco Reus, but in Jadon Sancho - the only player in double figures for both goals and assists in one of Europe's top five leagues per UEFA coeffcient this season - and the hugely impressive Erling Haaland, who netted his eighth goal in just five appearances in Friday’s 4-0 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt, the Bundesliga title-chasers have their own potent weapons.
Watch: Sancho and Haaland clicking into gear
“We’re very good in the offense, with young players with a lot of power. We’re capable of scoring goals and winning matches,” said Bürki, who believes the 19-year-old Haaland can give PSG’s experienced centre-backs Thiago Silva and Marquinhos an uncomfortable night.
“Yes, why not? He’s in really good form, he’s working hard, and I’m sure he’ll get chances to score a goal.”
If Haaland could add to the eight goals he scored in six group stage appearances before his January move from RB Salzburg that would help set Lucien Favre’s men up nicely for the second leg in Paris on 11 March.
Another major bonus would be a clean sheet to take to the French capital. Dortmund conceded just two goals at home in the group stage - when they beat Inter Milan 3-2 in November, and have not lost a competitive game in front of the Yellow Wall since last April.
“If you ask me what result we need to be comfortable for the second leg, it’s 5-0. We’ll do everything to not concede a goal, and we always have a chance to score goals,” said Bürki, who was virtually a spectator as Dortmund comfortably held Frankfurt at arm’s length on Matchday 22.
“I think we have to play as we have done in all our Champions League games. They’re another team with a lot of power in attack, but that was the same for Barcelona too. We have to play our game, we have to defend well, and play as a team. We have to be excited to play this game.
“We were in a difficult group with Inter, Slavia Prague, who were very good too, and Barcelona, and we made it through. We beat Inter and Slavia here and drew with Barcelona. We’re very good at home in the Champions League.”
“Firstly, it was very important to get back to winning ways [against Frankfurt],” added Witsel, who underpinned BVB’s victory that followed on the back of the disappointing 4-3 loss to Leverkusen the previous weekend.
“We wanted to play really well and win, and we didn’t concede a goal, so we’re really happy. That was really important for the game against Paris.”