In Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund have two of Europe’s most exciting young attacking talents in their ranks. The pair have also helped BVB reach the quarter-finals of this season’s UEFA Champions League, where the Norway and United States internationals will now be returning to their country of birth as they face Manchester City - a club which shaped their families’ footballing stories.
City may be flying high in the English Premier League, but they will surely be well aware of what’s in store for them when Dortmund visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
The sensational duo have stolen headlines all season long as they have terrorised defences all across Germany, racking up 24 goals and 10 assists between them.
Even before such exploits, the names Reyna and Haaland were hardly unfamiliar around Manchester. Gio’s father Claudio turned out for City from 2003 to 2007, while the senior Haaland, Alf-Inge, played in sky blue from 2000 to 2003.
Watch: The Reyna footballing family
High-level athleticism may run in both families, but it's not an exact case of like father, like son. While his offspring can now be seen marauding across Dortmund’s attack, former Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg man Claudio Reyna was known as a fine midfielder and one of the best American players of his generation, earning the nickname 'Captain America' for his services wearing the armband for his country.
"He's much more of an athlete than I was, much more of a goalscorer," said Reyna senior about his son. The stats back up that assessment; Claudio managed four goals in 87 appearances for City; Gio has as many already this season in all competitions.
In 2021, the name Haaland has become a byword for an uncompromising goal machine, redefining what it means to be an elite striker.
Twenty years ago, Alf-Inge Haaland was known as a tough-tackling defender and midfielder. In 38 appearances over three seasons in Manchester, he found the back of the net three times, something Erling did in just 15 second-half minutes against Hertha Berlin earlier this season.
Watch: All of Haaland's Bundesliga goals this season
"Some of my strengths I can see in Erling, but, in other things, he's a lot better than me already, I can say that," the elder Haaland told bundesliga.com.
"I think maybe he's learned a few things from me, you know, mentality and stuff, the will to win." It would seem that his son agrees: "My father's been a big role model for me," said Erling.
It’s no understatement to say that the younger Reyna and Haaland have been in fantastic form this season, and Tuesday’s match will require them to hit those heights once again.
Manchester City are yet to lose in the Champions League this season, having conceded just once. The other Borussia, of Mönchengladbach, gave a good account of themselves in the round of 16, but ultimately bowed out against City 4-0 on aggregate.
Watch: Reyna and Haaland are building a dream Dortmund duo
The quarter-finals should provide a thrilling encounter where Reyna and Haaland will prove their worth against one of Europe’s best sides. Despite whatever connection they may have with Man City, their fathers will be cheering louder than anyone for the Black and Yellow.
No amount of sentimentality can stop the two from trying to put City to the sword and earn Dortmund a place in this year’s semi-finals.