An apocalypse. Phil Jones in defence. A bullet to the head. All of these things are deadly but are any of them as deadly as Erling Braut Haaland? On recent evidence, the answer appears to be no, they are not. Since joining Borussia Dortmund, the forward has turned them from everyone’s favourite hipster team to a side people fear. And with good reason.
The buzz around Haaland was already considerable before his move, and he tore up the Champions League with RB Salzburg – giving the Liverpool defence absolute nightmares. The goals he’s scoring and the records he’s setting would take up the rest of the page if they were listed here, given they’re building game by game and don’t seem to be stopping.
Now how he seems to score for fun in the Champions League, you suspect he would have something of a riot in the Europa League. As it is, he’s been tasked with leading the line for BVB – who are in title contention in Germany and got out of the 'Group of Death' in the Champions League.
BVB were already an impressive side, with young talents like Jadon Sancho meshing with experienced players like Mats Hummels and Marco Reus. The one thing they were lacking was that clinical edge up top. The one player to go and finish the many, many chances their creative stars produce, and to finish games off. Well, in Haaland they found that and then some.
He managed to win the Bundesliga Player of the Month in January having only played 59 minutes during that period. Talk about an instant impact, and his debut was something BVB fans will remember for a long time. He loves those league goals and thrives when he’s under pressure and the team need something from him.
That’s also something PSG found out to their cost in the Champions League, with Haaland destroying their defence for fun during the first leg of their tie. The second leg should be an intriguing matchup, with Thiago Silva set to miss it – a huge loss for the PSG defence who are already under the cosh facing Haaland and Sancho – and it falling on the exact date of Rafaella Santos’ birthday – who's that you might ask? Well it’s Neymar’s sister, and we all know how he likes to party with her.
Of course, PSG have the away goal, and that’s huge – but does anyone seriously not back BVB to get at least a couple in Paris? PSG have a huge habit of falling at the hurdles set for them in the Champions League, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if that happened again.
When it comes to BVB, it’s not just PSG who will worry about playing them. It’s every single side. No matter how good you are at the back, if you face players like Haaland and Sancho, you’re likely to concede and will need to outscore them.
Who would you back to do that currently in the Champions League? Liverpool if they get past Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich with Lewandowski – anyone else? Real Madrid have struggled at times and will again be without Hazard. Barcelona are a huge mess up front but there’s always the chance of a Messi masterclass. Manchester City? Maybe, as long as they don’t need a penalty to win the game.
Either way, there’s no shock that the bookies have slashed the odds on BVB to win the Champions League – before the first leg of the PSG tie, they were 55/1 - and in the group stages, they were much higher than that as well. Now, they’re 28/1 and will no doubt be slashed further if they do get past PSG.
Haaland is 5/1 to be the top Champions League goalscorer – second only behind Robert Lewandowski – thanks again for demolishing Chelsea, Lewa. Really managed to ruin my week. But back to the point in hand. In a knockout competition, anyone who can score goals is a huge threat. Especially when away goals are so key – and BVB score for fun thanks to their lethal forward.
Oh and the last deadly thing? Me if BVB do win the Champions League and my husband forgot to put the bet on when they were 55/1 and I told him they’d be a decent shout for a tenner.