Erling Haaland (l.) looks to have an able understudy as Borussia Dortmund's No.9 in Steffen Tigges (r.) - © IMAGO / Kirchner-Media
Erling Haaland (l.) looks to have an able understudy as Borussia Dortmund's No.9 in Steffen Tigges (r.) - © IMAGO / Kirchner-Media
bundesliga

Is Steffen Tigges the man to replace Erling Haaland against Ajax?

Having scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, Steffen Tigges has now set his sights on helping his side beat Ajax in the UEFA Champions League. Could he be the man to make up for Erling Haaland's absence on Wednesday?

It's the type of thing that every young player dreams of. It's a tight game, and you've been sent on to try and see your team home. You do just that, scoring with your first touch in front of the south stand and its famous Yellow Wall of ecstatic supporters.

That's exactly what happened to Steffen Tigges on Saturday as he clinched a 2-0 home win for Borussia Dortmund over Cologne by heading in his first-ever goal for the first team.

"It was a great feeling," a delighted Tigges told reporters after the game. "I couldn't wipe the smile off my face."

And scoring your first Bundesliga goal at that particular end, to help second-placed Dortmund secure an eighth league win of the campaign?

Watch: Highlights of BVB's win over Cologne

"It's a bit like what you've always dreamed of," the 23-year-old admitted. "It's a huge privilege to play here. And then to get my first goal in all places in front of the south stand - I wouldn't have imagined that two years ago."

Tigges, who has been a regular goalscorer for Dortmund's second team since joining from home town club Osnabrück in 2019, could hardly have timed his latest strike better. It came when BVB's lead against Cologne looked shaky, but also when their star striker was absent through injury. Haaland has nine goals in six Bundesliga games this season, and in normal circumstances the Norwegian would have this week backed himself to drive Dortmund to a third win from four Champions League matches this season.

With Haaland still out, though, another attacker will need to step up to the plate against the Dutch champions. Ex-Ajax academy player Donyell Malen has already done so in Europe this year, notching the only goal against Portuguese side Sporting on Matchday 2 of the group stage. Belgian attacker Thorgan Hazard, meanwhile, is in particularly good form of late. He netted the opening goal in the Cologne game after scoring twice in the DFB Cup win over Ingolstadt that preceded it.

Tigges, though, did a good impression of Haaland on Saturday. Standing at 6'3" - not quite as tall as the former Salzburg star - he got up well to glance home a Julian Brandt corner on 63 minutes. So could the unheralded frontman stand in for Haaland on Wednesday?

Watch: Learn how Haaland got so good

Given the way Dortmund boss Marco Rose praised Tigges at the weekend, the striker is certainly in contention.

"We are convinced that Tiggi is in the right place here, and he proved that today," Rose said after the win over Cologne.

"His development is not yet at an end. He is a physically strong striker who is the type of player who can best replace Erling Haaland. He is a good boy, is developing well overall, and is proud as punch today."

Tigges, though, believes there are plenty of attackers who are capable of putting their hands up.

"I think we have a lot of players who've played in Erling's role," he said. "Because of his injury, we'll need a lot of players to score goals. If I can contribute a couple more goals in the near future, then I'll be all the more happy. But I'm also pleased for anyone else who scores for us."

Will Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose (l.) call on Steffen Tigges (r.) against Ajax on Wednesday? - IMAGO / Horstmüller

Dortmund have been without Haaland since they last played Ajax, but have won all three of those matches. The fact they have also scored seven goals during that time is proof, according to Tigges, that they can cope - in the short term at least - without the 21-year-old.

"We're dangerous up front even without Erling," the former Germany U20 international said. "You can see again and again the type of quality we have. We could have done better in one or two situations against Cologne and even got one or two more goals.

"But above all you can see that we're a team that defends extremely passionately and aggressively. The fact that we finally kept a clean sheet against Cologne is a success for the whole team - front and back."

Dortmund will need another team effort to get the better of Ajax next time out - but they now know they can count on Tigges.