Youssoufa Moukoko has been tipped for superstardom and the prodigious Borussia Dortmund talent has vowed to chase his dreams "like a lion".

On Saturday, Moukoko made history when at the age of 16 years and a day he came off the bench in Dortmund's 5-2 win over Hertha Berlin to become the youngest player in Bundesliga history.

Following that game, team-mate Erling Haaland hailed Moukoko as "the biggest talent in the world" – high praise indeed from a player who had just scored four goals to continue his own rapid rise.

The reasons for optimism are plentiful. Moukoko made history in October 2019 when, still just 14, he became the youngest ever goalscorer in the UEFA Youth League.

In the previous season, Moukoko earned promotion to Dortmund's under-19 team having scored 50 goals. He took to the new level with similar ease, netting 34 goals from just 20 games in the Bundesliga's youth division.

A haul of 10 goals from three matches in 2020-21 preceded Moukoko's competitive first-team bow, which he was only eligible to make after turning 16.

Many before have been touted for big things and fallen by the wayside but Moukoko is determined not to fall into that category.

"I can't do anything about being good at football," he said in an interview with DAZN.

"The one who works harder gets rewarded in the end.

"It was always my dream to become a professional football player. And if you have that dream you have to chase it like a lion."

Moukoko will be trying to emulate the achievements of 18-year-old Giovanni Reyna, who earned himself a new long-term deal at Dortmund last week after making a seamless transition into first-team football.

The promising striker spoke about his relationship with the newly minted United States international.

"We never talked because he did not speak German and I had my difficulties with English," Moukoko added.

"But on the pitch, we understood each other. It was unbelievable."

All eyes are on a finely poised Group H as the Champions League returns this week following the international break.

Paris Saint-Germain, finalists last season, are in trouble after defeats to Manchester United and RB Leipzig, who they face again on Tuesday.

United's fine early European form took a hit when they lost to Istanbul Basaksehir, however, meaning all four teams are separated by just three points.

Elsewhere, Barcelona will hope their impressive Champions League results continue to provide an effective distraction after their latest LaLiga setback.

Juventus, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund are all also in action as we break down Tuesday's key matchday four fixtures with Opta data.
 

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: Milestone in sight for misfiring Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe netted a brace in PSG's 3-2 defeat at Monaco last week and his next goal will be his 100th for the capital club. However, the World Cup winner has not scored in the Champions League in 2020, enduring a seven-game, 529-minute drought in the competition since scoring against Galatasaray last December.

Neymar is set to be fit to start alongside Mbappe, and PSG will need their star pair on form to avoid suffering a second consecutive home defeat in the Champions League for the first time.

Leipzig, who were unbeaten in five away Champions League games before losing 5-0 at United, got the better of PSG last time out, meaning the Ligue 1 side have lost four of their previous six matches against German opposition in the competition - including the 2019-20 final to Bayern Munich.

Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir: Martial a man in form

Fresh from enjoying their first home Premier League win of the season, United will look to maintain their strong European run at Old Trafford, where they have six straight victories by a combined scoreline of 20-1.

Anthony Martial scored in the win against Leipzig and the defeat to Basaksehir and could become the first United player to score in three consecutive Champions League appearances since Wayne Rooney in 2010.

But Demba Ba also netted in the sides' previous meeting and has made four previous appearances at Old Trafford, scoring for Newcastle United in a 1-1 draw in 2011. United have lost three of their past four games against Turkish opposition.

Dynamo Kiev v Barcelona: No Leo against luckless Lucescu

Barca are looking to win their first four Champions League group-stage matches for just the second time (also 2002-03), despite this being the fourth occasion in five years they have started the campaign with three victories in a row.

The Blaugrana will welcome the sight of Mircea Lucescu in the home dugout. He has lost six Champions League matches against Barca, a miserable tally against a single opponent only topped by Arsene Wenger (eight defeats v Barca, seven v Bayern).

The Catalan club, who will have to cope without Lionel Messi, have three straight Champions League wins in Ukraine and Lucescu has been the opposition coach for two of them, both with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Juventus v Ferencvaros: Loan man Morata making strides

Cristiano Ronaldo is the man in form in Serie A, but Alvaro Morata has made an outstanding start to the Champions League campaign for Juve. He has four goals in three games, as many as he had netted in his previous 17 appearances across spells with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.

Expect Ronaldo to be in the thick of the action, too, though, as he aims to nudge ahead of Messi as the competition's leading home goalscorer. He has 69 goals in home games, one behind the Barca man's 70.

Ferencvaros are visiting Italy for a European match for the first time since their 1968 Fairs Cup draw with Bologna. They are winless in three European Cup or Champions League games against Serie A opposition, shipping four goals in both of their defeats (4-0 v Inter in 1966, 4-1 v Juve this season).

 

Other fixtures:

Krasnodar v Sevilla

3 - In the sides' previous meeting on matchday three, Sevilla became only the third team in Champions League history to win a match after having a man sent off when they were losing (also Hamburg against CSKA Moscow in December 2006, Manchester City against Schalke in February 2019).

4 - Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui has only lost four of his 22 Champions League matches (W13 D5), although his last defeat in the competition was away in Russia, losing with Real Madrid at CSKA in October 2018.

Rennes v Chelsea

5 - It is five years since Chelsea won three consecutive Champions League matches, while they are looking to win three in a row without conceding for the first time since November 2013.

1 - Rennes have given at least one teenager a Champions League debut in each of their three games in the campaign so far. They have used five teenagers in all (Eduardo Camavinga, Jeremy Doku, Adrien Truffert, Brandon Soppy, Yann Gboho), two more than any other club.

Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge

12 - Erling Haaland was the joint-fastest player to score five Champions goals (three games, level with Didier Drogba), the fastest to score 10 goals (seven games) and will be the fastest to 15 goals if he scores in this game - his 12th appearance. The record is held by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roberto Soldado (19 games).

20 - Lucien Favre will become the second coach to take charge of 20 Champions League matches with Borussia Dortmund after Jurgen Klopp (37). Favre's win rate of 53 per cent (P19 W10 D2 L7) is the third-best for Dortmund in the competition, behind Nevio Scala (60 per cent) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (58 per cent).

Lazio v Zenit

3 - Lazio have avoided defeat in their opening three Champions League group-stage matches (W1 D2) for the first time since 1999-00, when they went on to top the table unbeaten.

13 - Including qualifiers, Zenit are winless in 13 away European matches (D3 L10) since a 3-1 victory at Real Sociedad in December 2017 in the Europa League.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland enjoyed another unforgettable day in his young career on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Norway striker was this week named as the winner of the prestigious Golden Boy award, which recognises Europe's outstanding player under the age of 21.

Just in case there were any doubting Haaland's suitability for the gong, he set about dismantling Hertha Berlin, scoring four times as a rampant Dortmund won 5-2 and closed to within a point of European champions Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga.

Such exploits underline that Haaland is as much a player for the now as he is for the future and an Opta dive into the top marksman in Germany's top flight this season finds him rubbing shoulders with the best in the business.

Living up to Lewandowski

Before his phenomenal goalscoring exploits fuelled Bayern's recent dominance at home and abroad, Robert Lewandowski was the toast of Signal Iduna Park as he led the Dortmund line with aplomb under Jurgen Klopp.

Haaland has the BVB faithful dreaming of a return to those glory days of back-to-back title triumphs they enjoyed in 2010-11 and 2011-12. If a return to the winners' enclosure is to become a reality it means one thing: matching Bayern.

Haaland is fulfilling his side of the bargain. A second scoreless outing of the season in the Bundesliga this term for Lewandowski in Bayern's 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen means his lead over the youngster at the top of the scoring charts was scythed to one, with 11 to Haaland's 10.

The Dortmund man has shown greater efficiency in front of goal. A total of 23 shots means a conversion rate of 43.5 per cent (excluding blocked attempts), while eight goals from 11 big chances amounts to a success of 72.7 per cent.

Lewandowski's conversion rate of 40.7 per cent is slightly down on Haaland (11 goals from 27 attempts, again excluding blocks), although he has missed six and scored seven of his big chances (53.8 per cent). Among players to have scored four or more Bundesliga goals this term, only Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst has missed more big chances (eight).

Crunch time in Der Klassiker

Each of Haaland's four attempts on target found the net against Hertha Berlin, with a further two blocked. In a frustrating outing against Bremen, Lewandowski failed to find the target with his two shots.

However, on the big occasion earlier this month, the 32-year-old gave the pretender to his throne a demonstration of his clinical efficiency.

Both men scored as Bayern held out for a gripping 3-2 win in Der Klassiker. Yet, Lewandowski required one fewer shot, had two goals disallowed for offside and also weighed in with an assist.

Fine margins could again be at play when the sides reconvene in Bavaria in a game slated for March 6.

In terms of goals per minute, Lewandowski remains the Bundesliga's best, striking once every 49.7 minutes this term. Haaland's one per 56.1 minutes comes in third behind Andrej Kramaric, whose seven for Hoffenheim have come along every 51.3 minutes.

No player has had more than the Poland superstar's 17 shots on target, while Andre Silva and Matheus Cunha (15) have each brought the goalkeeper into play once more than Haaland.

Still, there can be no doubt as to Haaland's skywards trajectory. As fans and elite clubs across Europe watch on with interest, the question over the rest of the season is simply quite how high he can soar.

Erling Haaland hailed Youssoufa Moukoko as "the biggest talent in the world" after the teenager became the youngest ever Bundesliga player on Saturday.

Moukoko replaced four-goal hero Haaland in the closing stages of Borussia Dortmund's 5-2 rout of Hertha Berlina at the Olympiastadion.

The Cameroon-born striker's Bundesliga debut came just a day after his 16th birthday, breaking a record former Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin set when he was aged 16 years, 11 months and one day.

Haaland lavished praise on prodigy Moukoko after the Norway international found the back of the net four times in a devastating second-half display from Lucien Favre's side.

"I think he's the biggest talent in the world right now," Haaland told ESPN. "Sixteen years and one day, that's quite amazing. He has a big career ahead of him."

A smiling Haaland added: "'I'm over 20 years, I'm getting old now. That's how it is."

Dortmund boss Favre will be patient with Moukoko and was eager to play down the hype.

"He's trained with us now for 14 days. Seven or eight players were away on international duty. It was 5-2 and it was good for him to play his first Bundesliga game but of course he has to keep working," Favre said.

"He's very, very young. We have a lot of attacking players, a lot who haven't played today."

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland has been rewarded for his stunning exploits, named the 2020 Golden Boy recipient.

The prize, presented by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and won by Joao Felix last year, is given to the best player aged 21 or under from a top-tier league in Europe.

And Norway international Haaland – the leading contender – graced Saturday's front page of Tuttosport, beating the likes of Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho, Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies, Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood and Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati to the award.

Haaland scored 44 goals across all competitions in 2019-20 – 16 of those coming in 18 appearances after a mid-season move from Austrian champions Salzburg to Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

Among all Bundesliga players last season to have scored at least 10 goals, only Bayern star Robert Lewandowski (81.2) had a better minutes-per-goal record than Haaland (81.7).

Haaland has six goals in as many Bundesliga appearances for last season's runners-up Dortmund this term.

The 20-year-old has found the back of the net four times through three Champions League fixtures in 2020-21, taking his tally to 11 goals from 11 matches across all competitions.

Haaland continues to be linked with a blockbuster switch from Dortmund amid reported interest from the likes of LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League giants United.

But his father Alf-Inge Haaland told SPORT1 during the week: "When you play well, it's only logical that big clubs knock on your door, but we're talking about speculation here.

"At the moment it's not in Erling's or my head that another club will be vying for him. We signed a long contract with Dortmund and they have a fantastic team for Erling right now. We don't want to look any further ahead."

Asked if the close season could bring about a move, he added: "You never know what will happen. We haven't talked about such a step yet. I think he would like to win some trophies with Dortmund. That is his goal. Erling can still achieve a lot in Germany and make great progress. Moving abroad is not a priority for us.

"I sometimes think he wants to and can assert himself in any league. At the moment, he is happy in the Bundesliga and focused on Dortmund. He just wants to be a better player and doesn't look too far ahead."

At long last, one of the world's most promising young footballers is eligible to make his professional bow, as Borussia Dortmund prodigy Youssoufa Moukoko turned 16 on Friday.

The Germany Under-20 international has long given Dortmund coaches, players and fans cause for excitement, with his accomplishments in the club's academy over the past few years attracting widespread attention.

He made history on the European stage a little over a year ago in October 2019 when, still just 14, became the youngest ever goalscorer in the UEFA Youth League – the previous record-holders had been well over a year older when they netted their first goals.

The previous season Moukoko had scored 50 goals and earned his promotion to Dortmund's Under-19s, and he took to that level with similar comfort, setting a new record as he scored 34 goals from just 20 games in the Bundesliga's youth division.

And such form has continued into the 2020-21 campaign with a remarkable haul of 10 goals in just three league matches.

Finally, his shot at the big time appears to be here.

A long time coming 


But why has it seemingly taken so long for Moukoko to be introduced to first-team football? After all, former Dortmund star Nuri Sahin, the current record-holder as the Bundesliga's youngest-ever player, believes the youngster is wasting his time in the Under-19s.

Sahin told Kicker: "Youssoufa must now take the next step - the Under-19s is too easy for him."

Well, quite, but German Football League (DFL) regulations have long been rather strict regarding the minimum age of its players.

Generally, before this season, players have had to be 17 years old in order to get a DFL gaming license – the absolute earliest they could make their professional debut until 2020-21 was 16 years and six months.

However, that was altered in April to allow players to become eligible at the age of 16, bringing the Bundesliga in line with many of Europe's other major leagues.

Therefore, with Moukoko's 16th birthday on Friday, there is the very real possibility of the teenager being involved in a Bundesliga match for the first time this weekend as Dortmund go to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

While undoubtedly a step up, Dortmund have worked to ensure Moukoko doesn't suffer too much of a shock to his system, with sporting director Michael Zorc revealing in June that the youngster was to be integrated with the first-team squad "immediately" so he could be used in the top flight from his 16th birthday.

His time has come.

Historic feats within reach

Given Moukoko will be the first player to benefit from this rule alteration and his debut could come literally a day after he becomes eligible, there are several records waiting to be smashed.

As previously mentioned, Sahin holds both the club and Bundesliga record for the youngest debutant having been 16 years, 11 months and one day old.

The only other player to feature in the Bundesliga before turning 17 was Yann Bisseck (16 years, 11 months and 28 days) for Cologne in November 2017, though unfortunately he was unable to sustain that breakthrough and has spent most of his time since out on loan.

There are three other Dortmund players in the top 10 youngest Bundesliga debutants – Ibrahim Tanko (17y, 1m, 30d) in September 1994 and current first-team talents Giovanni Reyna (17y, 2m, 5d) and Jude Bellingham (17y, 2m, 21d) in January and September this year, respectively.

Sahin (17y, 2m, 21d) had also held the record for the Bundesliga's youngest goalscorer until Bayer Leverkusen's gifted winger Florian Wirtz (17y, 1m, 3d) came along and snatched it away in June this year.

Nevertheless, that too looks set to be smashed by Moukoko assuming he makes a bright start to his Bundesliga career, and given the ease at which he has taken to pretty much every other challenge until now, few would bet against him.

Erling Haaland recently suggested Moukoko is even better than he was at the same age – a scary thought if you are a defender employed in the Bundesliga.

They have been warned.

Erling Haaland wants to win trophies with Borussia Dortmund and is not thinking about a move abroad, according to his father Alf-Inge Haaland.

Dortmund won the race to sign Erling Haaland from Salzburg last January and he has made a stellar start to his career at Signal Iduna Park, scoring 27 goals in 29 games in all competitions for the club.

The Norway international has a better big chance conversion rate (62.5 per cent) than Robert Lewandowski (53.9 per cent) in the Bundesliga this season, though the Poland international has scored five more goals in the same amount of games (six).

A move to one of Europe's elite clubs continues to be touted for the 20-year-old, but Alf-Inge Haaland insists that has not been discussed.

"When you play well, it's only logical that big clubs knock on your door, but we're talking about speculation here," he told SPORT1.

"At the moment it's not in Erling's or my head that another club will be vying for him. We signed a long contract with Dortmund and they have a fantastic team for Erling right now. We don't want to look any further ahead."

Asked if the close season could bring about a move, he added: "You never know what will happen. We haven't talked about such a step yet. I think he would like to win some trophies with Dortmund. That is his goal.

"Erling can still achieve a lot in Germany and make great progress. Moving abroad is not a priority for us.

"I sometimes think he wants to and can assert himself in any league. At the moment, he is happy in the Bundesliga and focused on Dortmund. He just wants to be a better player and doesn't look too far ahead."

Erling Haaland was born in Leeds and played under Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for two seasons at Molde, and the pair have been linked with a reunion at Old Trafford.

"It's hard to compare the different clubs," said Alf-Inge Haaland when asked what his son feels is Dortmund's advantage over top clubs in England.

"Manchester United have achieved great success in recent years. The club is also trying to build something new there. But to draw this comparison now is not so easy because he is already playing in Dortmund. These are two very traditional clubs with a large fan base and a glorious history.

"Man United is a very proud club, just like Dortmund in Germany. And Dortmund want to beat FC Bayern [Munich] soon, that's the clear goal. We have to catch up to them. Erling wants to cling to this goal."

Dortmund suffered a 3-2 defeat to Bayern in the Bundesliga before the international break and face a trip to Hertha Berlin when they return to action on Saturday.

Manchester City could be set to strengthen in attack ahead of next season, with Erling Haaland and Lautaro Martinez reportedly their main targets.

The Premier League giants may be looking for a forward amid uncertainty over Sergio Aguero, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

And two of Europe's top talents are apparently top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EYE HAALAND, MARTINEZ

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez top Manchester City's wish list next year, according to 90min.

Haaland and Martinez have been heavily linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

The report says with Aguero's future unclear and some questions over Gabriel Jesus, City are prioritising a forward.

Haaland is the equal top goalscorer in the Champions League this season with four, converting 60 per cent of his big chances.

Martinez has a goal and an assist in three Champions League games, while creating five chances.

Meanwhile, the Daily Star reports City are weighing up using their £25million buy-back clause on Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, while they are also looking at star Jack Grealish.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Paul Pogba is reportedly unhappy at Manchester United, Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League giants want to extend the midfielder's contract, although nothing is advanced. Pogba's current deal runs until 2022.

- Hakan Calhanoglu seems set to leave Milan. Mundo Deportivo reports Atletico Madrid are in pole position to sign the midfielder, who has also been linked to Manchester United, Juventus and Inter. Calhanoglu is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Staying at Milan and Milan Live claims the Serie A outfit are looking at Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, another player whose deal expires at the end of the campaign.

- Barcelona could be looking to raise funds in January. Sport says Riqui Puig and Carles Alena are set for January exits.

- Also at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports the LaLiga giants will rely on Oscar Mingueza, Arnau Comas or Santiago Mingo from the B team if Manchester City do not lower their asking price, believed to be €15m (£13.4m), for defender Eric Garcia in January.

Neymar is again being linked with a return to Barcelona.

The Brazil forward left the LaLiga giants for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million deal in 2017.

But rumours of a return to Camp Nou refuse to go away.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CONTACTED OVER BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar has been contacted by different Barcelona presidential candidates over a return to the club from PSG, according to Sport.

It says Neymar, who was recently said to be happy to renew a PSG deal that expires in 2022, does not want to extend at the Ligue 1 champions.

Neymar has battled injuries since moving to the French capital, making 30 or fewer appearances in each of his three seasons at the club heading into 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Lyon star Memphis Depay has a four-year agreement with the Catalans. It comes days after Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas ruled out a January exit for the forward. Depay is out of contract at season's end and Mundo Deportivo says he could make a January move for €5m or €6m.

- Dominik Szoboszlai sent Hungary into Euro 2020 on Thursday, and the Salzburg star is wanted across Europe. AS says Real Madrid are following the midfielder, who it says is valued at around €25m and also wanted by Arsenal, Milan and RB Leipzig.

- Also at Real Madrid and AS reports Martin Odegaard could play a key role in helping the LaLiga champions land his Norway team-mate Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in 2022.

- After playing just 33 Premier League minutes for Chelsea this season, Olivier Giroud is again linked with a move. CalcioMercato reports Inter are set to go back in for the forward in January.

- Amid their defensive crisis with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez facing long spells on the sidelines, Liverpool are likely to look for a centre-back in January. TeamTalk reports the Premier League champions have been offered former Newcastle United and Watford defender Daryl Janmaat.

Cristiano Ronaldo's name is still chanted at Old Trafford, 11 years on from his Manchester United exit.

The 35-year-old enjoyed great success in Manchester, while he has gone on to break records with Real Madrid and Juventus.

However, the Juventus superstar could reportedly be set for a second stint at the Theatre of Dreams.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE RONALDO RETURN

Manchester United are looking to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus, according to ESPN broadcaster Christian Martin.

Ronaldo spent six years at United, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League, before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner swapped Madrid for Serie A champions Juve in 2018, but he has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Juve would negotiate a deal with United if Ronaldo asked to leave Turin, the report claims.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe tops Real Madrid's list of transfer targets, reports Diario AS. The club's wishlist includes the PSG forward, Rennes sensation and United target Eduardo Camavinga, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano. It comes as United eye both Upamecano and Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane.

Matthijs de Ligt will not leave Juventus next season, reports Calciomercato. Juve are not entertaining offers, unless a club pay De Ligt's €150million release clause, which will be active in 2021.

- Calciomercato says United have set their sights on Dortmund defender Dan-Axel Zagadou. The 21-year-old arrived from PSG in 2017.

Madrid are concerned about the form of Zinedine Zidane's team, according to Cadena SER. While there are reports Madrid directors are losing faith in Zidane, the club are also unwilling to throw Raul or Mauricio Pochettino in the deep end at the LaLiga champions.

Erling Haaland recognises he must be more clinical in front of goal despite scoring in Borussia Dortmund's Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich.

Dortmund went down 3-2 to the Bundesliga champions at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, with Haaland netting the final goal of the game - his sixth of the season in the league.

But the 20-year-old might have struck long before that late effort in a wasteful display, missing the target with his prior three shots.

"I have to score more goals," he said. "If we don't put our chances away at this level, then we won't win."

It was Haaland's decision-making that was as much a problem as his profligacy.

While the Norway international attempted four shots, missing one of his two big chances, he also passed up a host of opportunities by mistiming a run or misplacing a pass.

Haaland was caught offside on three occasions, having been flagged only twice across his prior five games this term combined.

Despite repeatedly looking for a team-mate when a shot might have been on, the ex-Salzburg striker also played fewer passes into the final third (seven) than he had in previous matches. Just 42.9 per cent of these balls were completed - another season low.

This inaccuracy meant, for the first time in the Bundesliga this season, Haaland failed to create a chance, unable to add to his tally of two assists.

"[Bayern] are the best team in the world and we have to work harder to take the next step to be as good as them," Haaland said.

Taking heed of the opposition, he will surely look to emulate Bayern's ex-Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski, who showed his class once again.

The Poland star scored with one of his two shots, had two more efforts disallowed for marginal offside calls - the only occasions on which he was flagged - and created Bayern's third goal for Leroy Sane.

It was the sort of display Haaland has shown he can similarly produce - just not yet in the biggest game in German club football.

Borussia Dortmund were spared by a marginal VAR call, but it was as if something unhelpful within their collective muscle memory started to spasm.

Robert Lewandowski thought he had added to his merciless record of 18 goals in 21 competitive encounters against his former club, adding the finishing touch to a move of frictionless beauty featuring all members of Bayern Munich's dynamic front three.

Unfortunately for the superstar striker, his knee strayed fractionally offside when converting Serge Gnabry's cross and Saturday's compelling, undulating Klassiker remained goalless. Although that state of affairs was very much on notice.

Dortmund were aiming to equal a Bundesliga record of five consecutive clean sheets and had the best defensive record in the division so far this season, having conceded just twice.

Lucien Favre has made building more solid foundations for his side's flair an obvious priority. Before the weekend, they had also faced fewer shots than any other team (37) and only committed one error leading to a goal in the 2020-21 campaign.

Despite all that, Lewandowski's reminder of his lethal qualities seemed to induce panic. They were all at sea a few moments later when Leon Goretzka got a volley off and the ball spun eventually to safety from Roman Burki's save.

It felt like a case of kill or be killed and, on the stroke of half-time, BVB thrillingly struck. Mats Hummels' drilled pass was superb - putting Bayern straight back on their heels and allowing a sprightly move to fizz through Jadon Sancho, Raphael Guerreiro and finally Marco Reus, who opened his body for an expert side-footed finish.

They were unable to even make it to the interval. Hummels, the rock upon which Dortmund's new solidity is built, tore out of position and missed a challenge on Gnabry. A panicked Thomas Delaney tripped the Germany winger inside the D and a scampering Hummels was unable to clear David Alaba's deflected free-kick on the goal-line.

The early stages of the second half proved decisive and underscored the terms upon which this uneven battle is waged. Promise can challenge perfection and potential might nudge prowess out of its stride, but it's never less than a very tough ask.

Erling Haaland could very well be to the coming decade what Lewandowski was to the one just gone. The 20-year-old sensation is a striker blessed with natural gifts and a confidence that borders on arrogance.

Another fine Hummels ball found Sancho and his reverse pass released Haaland. A VAR check for offside would have been in order had he found the target, but the Norway international dragged wide.

It was, at best, half a chance. The same could be said when Lewandowski stole a few inches in front of Hummels and headed home immaculately from Lucas Hernandez's left-wing delivery in the 48th minute.

Bayern sensed blood and Champions League final hero Kingsley Coman thudded a drive against the post. To their immense credit, Dortmund turned the tide and sent wave after wave crashing towards Manuel Neuer's goal.

Haaland tormented Jerome Boateng relentlessly, but his radar was off. Teenager Giovanni Reyna shot at Neuer following a mistake from Bouna Sarr, who endured an at times tortured introduction to this fixture.

Jude Bellingham, 17, came on to turn the midfield in Dortmund's favour and fellow substitute Thorgan Hazard drew a superb Neuer stop, as did Reus.

Then, in the 80th minute, when Haaland's hold-up play misfired, Bayern broke and Leroy Sane - a ready-made world-beater from their bench - scored a riotous counter-attacking goal.

It ended 3-2 as Haaland finally got the goal his endeavours deserved, bringing down Guerreiro's chipped pass brilliantly and rounding the goalkeeper to finish. It was the only one of his four shots on the night to end up on target and he was flagged offside three times.

Both of Lewandowski's offsides cut short goal celebrations, and he scored one from two shots. It would be a brave man who backs against the prodigious Haaland reaching those levels of efficiency sometime soon. He will be a truly terrifying prospect.

However, Dortmund's wearying experience suggests, like Lewandowski before him, Haaland will be playing somewhere else by that stage. The same can probably be said for Sancho, Reyna and Bellingham when they fully realise their vast talents.

Such is a reality where a bolted down defence and livewire attack can only mean BVB take some sharpened, shiny knives to the Klassiker gunfight.

Bayern Munich landed the first significant blow in this season's Bundesliga title race as they rallied to beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 away in Der Klassiker.

Last season's champions were tied with opponents Dortmund heading into the weekend but forged a three-point gap - two clear of Saturday's early second-placed winners RB Leipzig - despite trailing to an effort from Marco Reus.

Bayern had lost Joshua Kimmich to injury with the game still goalless yet soon took the game away from BVB in clinical fashion either side of half-time at Signal Iduna Park.

David Alaba - the subject of some scrutiny amid failed contract negotiations - provided a swift riposte to the breakthrough goal, before Robert Lewandowski's 19th career strike against former club Dortmund secured a lead that substitute Leroy Sane stretched 10 minutes from time.

Erling Haaland belatedly found his shooting boots to set up a tense finale and Reus blazed a glorious opportunity over, while Lewandowski saw a late second ruled out for offside in a thrilling end to the match.

Lewandowski should have had his side in front within 41 seconds, instead lashing into the side-netting, before Roman Burki made an excellent two-handed save from Leon Goretzka's close-range header.

Haaland ran onto Gio Reyna's pass but directed a delicate finish across the face of goal and then looked to have been punished for his profligacy as Lewandowski took his second opportunity, only for a VAR review to highlight a marginal offside.

After Kimmich hobbled off - hurt in a lunge on Haaland - Reus hit Dortmund's 45th-minute opener, turning a smart effort past Manuel Neuer at the near post from Raphael Guerreiro's cutback.

But there was still time for Bayern to restore parity before the break as a set-piece routine allowed Alaba to shoot from 20 yards and earn a decisive deflection off Thomas Meunier.

They then needed less than three minutes of the second half to lead as Lewandowski stooped to meet Lucas Hernandez's cross and head inside the right-hand post, although the same section of the goal frame then denied Kingsley Coman a quick third.

Ex-Schalke winger Sane arrowed in a fine low strike on the break to seemingly settle matters, but Haaland kept Hansi Flick's men on their toes as he stayed onside to round Neuer and lash into the net, a feat Reus could not repeat when he thundered his volley over.

That would prove Dortmund's last big chance, even as another VAR review robbed Lewandowski of a stoppage-time second.

Erling Haaland is "almost obsessed with success" but comparing him with Robert Lewandowski is pointless, according to Michael Zorc.

Two of Europe's most feared strikers go head to head on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Lewandowski was the top scorer in Europe's top-five leagues last season, hitting 51 goals to propel Bayern to a treble triumph, and he set a Bundesliga record by scoring 10 goals in the first five matchdays of 2020-21.

Haaland, meanwhile, has managed five goals in as many Bundesliga appearances this term from a total of 15 shots. That puts the Dortmund striker's shot conversion rate at 29.4, a little way behind Lewandowski's 34.5, but he has scored 66.7 per cent of his certified big chances this term, a better tally than Lewandowski's (58.3).

Haaland is 12 years Lewandowski's junior and Dortmund sporting director Zorc feels it is too soon to compare the two, although the 20-year-old's determination to succeed seems likely to see him reach similar standards.

"They are different types of players. They score a lot of goals, but they have a different age," Zorc told reporters ahead of the Klassiker.

"We're happy to have Erling. He's not just good for us because of goals, but also because he exudes a will to improve all the time.

"He's almost obsessed with success. The comparisons are for journalists and experts, not us."

Head coach Lucien Favre believes Haaland is important in terms of not conceding goals, not only scoring them.

Dortmund conceded 44 Bundesliga goals in Favre's first season in charge, which improved to 41 in 2019-20. They also kept 15 clean sheets last term compared to 10 this season before.

They faced fewer shots on target (106) than in 2018-19 (134), something Favre says is down to improved defending from across the team, as they attempt to set a Bundesliga record of five consecutive clean sheets.

"We were okay in the first year, we didn't concede a lot of goals in the first half of the season, but now we're doing better," he said.

"What matters is that we all defend. A team has to defend together – that starts with the striker. It's the whole team that has to do it."

Bayern have won all three competitive games against Dortmund under Hansi Flick, including the DFL-Supercup in September, when they triumphed 3-2.

They effectively ended Dortmund's title hopes in May with a 1-0 win at Signal Iduna Park, courtesy of Joshua Kimmich's sublime chip, but BVB were aggrieved Haaland was not awarded a penalty when a shot struck Jerome Boateng's arm in the box.

"I think the attraction is always very great. We saw the last two games were close, with only one goal settling both," said Zorc.

"We lost the last home game because of a blatantly bad decision. That's beyond dispute. We have self-confidence and we want to throw everything into the mix tomorrow to win."

Erling Haaland is reportedly being lined up as a target for Real Madrid in 2022, while Manchester United are eyeing Mauricio Pochettino.

Haaland, 20, is widely regarded as one of the best forwards in Europe as he continues to star for Borussia Dortmund.

Madrid have plans for the Norway international.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE HAALAND IN 2022

Real Madrid are convinced Dortmund star Haaland is their man in 2022, according to AS.

Haaland has scored 10 goals in 10 games in all competitions for Dortmund this season.

The former Salzburg talent, Mino Raiola - his agent - and Dortmund reportedly have an agreement that a transfer away from BVB will be facilitated in 2022, though there is not thought to be a specific fee in mind yet.

Haaland has begun 2020-21 in fine form having netted five goals in as many Bundesliga games, picking up where he left off last term as he scored 13 in 15 league matches for Dortmund.

While early in the campaign, Haaland's shot conversion rate – excluding blocks – in the league this season (31.3 per cent) is lower than last term (52), but his big chance conversion is slightly higher (from 62.5 per cent to 66.7).

Seemingly flowing with confidence from last season, Haaland is averaging more shots in 2020-21 as well. Per 90 minutes, the striker is attempting 3.7 attempts from inside the box (including blocks) compared to 2.8 in 2019-20.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under pressure, Manchester United have approached former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to potentially become manager, according to the Manchester Evening News. United are 15th in the Premier League ahead of visiting Everton on Saturday.

- In good news for Barcelona, Sport reports goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is completely committed to the Spanish giants amid links to Bayern Munich. Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, says Barca could sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon star Memphis Depay for free next year, allowing them to potentially negotiate lower fees in January.

- Amid expectations he will leave Bayern Munich, David Alaba has been offered to Real Madrid, according to Marca. The defender is out of contract at season's end.

- Staying with Madrid – full-back Dani Carvajal is close to agreeing to a new contract until 2024, according to Marca.

- While he is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, Fabinho could be set for a renewal. Fabrizio Romano reports the midfielder is in talks to extend his deal through to 2025.

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