Manchester City face Borussia Dortmund – and their highly-rated striker Erling Haaland – in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday. Here, the PA news agency looks at some key points ahead of the game at the Etihad Stadium.
Haaland’s blistering form would suggest this is easier said than done. The 20-year-old Norway striker has scored 39 goals for club and country this season, including 10 in six appearances in the Champions League. He is probably the hottest property in the game at the moment and seems destined for a big-money move to one of Europe’s top guns in the not-too-distant future. City’s record signing Ruben Dias has excelled since his transformative arrival in September but this will arguably be the biggest test yet for the Portuguese centre-back. He and his partner, whether John Stones or Aymeric Laporte, will need to keep a close eye but the whole team could be detailed to press and deny Haaland space. As ever, though, City boss Pep Guardiola will see the best method of stopping him as preventing him getting the ball at all. .
Could this be one of many Haaland appearances at the Etihad?
Speculation remains rife that City will attempt to sign Haaland – whose father Alf-Inge played for the club two decades ago – despite Guardiola’s efforts to play it down. When the draw was made Guardiola refused to be drawn into talking about Haaland and last week he claimed City might not sign a striker at all this summer, even though it is now known Sergio Aguero will be leaving. He cited the figures being bandied about of well over £100million and the fact City have coped well without a specialist centre forward for large spells this season as reasons. But it is expected Dortmund will sell at some point and, given Haaland’s age and potential, his signing could reap huge dividends even at a high premium. City may decide they cannot miss this opportunity.
Who else could be a thorn in City’s side?
Mats Hummels, the vastly-experienced World Cup-winning centre-back now in his second spell with Dortmund, brings composure and class to the side, as does former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can. Jude Bellingham, now in the England frame, and Gio Reyna are exciting teenage talents while further experience comes from the likes of Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt, Marco Reus and Lukasz Piszczek. City may not have to worry about their former player Jadon Sancho, who has been out injured for the past month.
How is their form?
The German side have won just one of their last five games in all competitions and were beaten 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. In the previous round they edged out Sevilla 5-4 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw in the second leg at home. Haaland scored four goals in the tie.
Is there history between the clubs?
The only previous meetings between the clubs came in the group stage of the 2012-13 competition. That was only the second of City’s 10 consecutive seasons in the Champions League and the club were a relative European lightweight. City needed a last-gasp Mario Balotelli penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw at the Etihad, a match best remembered for a brilliant display from goalkeeper Joe Hart to prevent a heavy defeat. Roberto Mancini’s City lost the return match in Germany 1-0 and finished bottom of the group with no wins and just three points.