Virgil van Dijk was flattered by Erling Haaland's belief the Netherlands captain is "the best defender" in the world.

The pair are set to face off when the Oranje travel to Norway for their 2022 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

An intriguing duel should challenge both players, with Haaland full of praise for Van Dijk when he addressed the media on Monday.

"I think he is the best defender. I think quite a few others in the room agree with me on that," the Borussia Dortmund forward said.

"He is fast, strong and smart, and those are three important things you must have."

Those comments were on Tuesday put to Van Dijk, who replied: "Did he say that? That's nice of him."

The Liverpool man is relishing his return to the international stage, having missed Euro 2020 due to injury.

"I'm incredibly happy that I'm here again, with the guys, working towards a very important game," Van Dijk said.

"Everyone is sharp, looking forward to playing. Everyone is focused, which is great to see."

This will also be the Netherlands' first game since the return of Louis van Gaal, who is back for a third spell in charge.

Norway are tied with the visitors on six points from three games in Group G, one shy of early leaders Turkey.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has dismissed the idea of Erling Haaland joining Paris Saint-Germain before the end of the transfer window.

There are reports that the Ligue 1 giants are preparing an enormous bid for the Norway star with a view to forcing BVB into a sale.

With Kylian Mbappe said to be nearing a move to Real Madrid in a €180million deal, PSG are rumoured to be willing to go close to the world-record €222m fee they paid for Neymar four years ago in an effort to sign Haaland as a replacement.

Dortmund, who sold Jadon Sancho to Manchester United for £72.9m (€85m) in July, have always been determined to keep Haaland until at least next year when a rumoured release clause of €75m will come into effect.

Zorc certainly appears to have little interest in discussing the sale of the 21-year-old, who has three goals in three Bundesliga games in 2021-22, including the injury-time winner against Hoffenheim on Friday.

"I assume we'll be confronted by wild rumours for two more days," Zorc said to kicker.

"Our position is clear. I don't have to play the parrot all the time."

Haaland has managed 43 goals and 10 assists in 46 Bundesliga games since joining Dortmund from Salzburg last January. In that same period, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (61) has scored more.

Max Eberl, the sporting director of Borussia Monchengladbach, said he did not expect Dortmund to be tempted by any huge offer from PSG.

"As I know [CEO] Hans-Joachim Watzke, the money would not be enough for him," he told Bild TV am Sonntag.

"There is no adequate back-up for Haaland. All of their goals for the season would be in jeopardy.

"BVB have always remained steadfast over Haaland, and I think that's nice."

 

 

 

Kylian Mbappe is dominating headlines amid Real Madrid's pursuit.

Madrid are keen to prise Mbappe to the LaLiga club, though Paris Saint-Germain are in no hurry to part with the soon-to-be free agent.

Due to PSG's tough stance, Madrid could back out of negotiations.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE PSG ULTIMATUM

Real Madrid could walk away from their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Le Parisien.

While Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season, Madrid have been attempting to prise the Frenchman from PSG before the transfer window shuts.

The report claims Madrid will walk away from negotiations if a deal is not completed by Sunday.

There has been talk that PSG could target Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland as a replacement for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

Lautaro Martinez has agreed to sign a new contract with Inter, per Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract in 2023, the Argentina international – linked with the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United – will re-sign for four to five years at €6million per season.

Willian will join Corinthians on a free transfer after Arsenal granted his release, says Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also claims Feyenoord are close to bringing United sensation Amad Diallo to the Eredivisie club on loan.

- Widespread reports say Moise Kean is set to undergo a medical at Juventus as he gears up to join from Everton. It comes as Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to return to United. Juve are also eyeing PSG forward Mauro Icardi.

Dortmund are working on a loan deal for Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi, according to Sky Germany. Hudson-Odoi has long been coveted by Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Dortmund are also looking to bring in United full-back Diogo Dalot.

Chelsea are nearing a transfer that will see Jules Kounde arrive from Sevilla after Kurt Zouma departed for West Ham, reports Goal. Chelsea are also reportedly still targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who is wanted by United.

Paris Saint-Germain have lined up several options to replace Kylian Mbappe.

A deal with Real Madrid could create a domino effect. 

Who might be on the move to PSG?

 

TOP STORY – PSG LINE UP MBAPPE REPLACEMENTS

Paris Saint-Germain do not plan to let Kylian Mbappe go to Real Madrid this transfer window without replacing him. 

The French giants have their eyes on multiple players should Los Blancos' reported €180million bid for the striker succeed. 

Two Brazilians currently in the Premier League top the list, as Globo Esporte says PSG want Gabriel Jesus – though Pep Guardiola said he does not expect any more departures from Manchester City. 

PSG also reportedly are weighing up a bid for Everton's Richarlison, says ESPN Brasil. 

And though all indications have been that Erling Haaland will stay put with Borussia Dortmund, the Star says PSG could make another bid if Mbappe departs. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Jules Kounde is ready to move from Sevilla to Chelsea, says Sky Sports News, but the Blues are balking at the Spanish club's €80m asking price and are prepared to offer only about €50m.

- Everton are closing in on a swap deal that would send James Rodriguez to Porto with Luis Diaz joining the Toffees, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles could also be on the move to Everton, reports Sky Sports News, who say the Premier League side have also asked Celtic about Odsonne Edouard

- Meanwhile, Juventus are in talks with Everton about a deal for Moise Kean, who has become their top priority with Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, says Romano.

- Roma could make a move for Atletico Madrid's Hector Herrera, according to Calciomercato. 

- Aston Villa are weighing a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, reports Tuttosport. 

- Atalanta have their eyes on AZ Alkmaar's Teun Koopmeiners, says Calciomercato. 

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

Edouard Mendy, Ruben Dias, N'Golo Kante and Erling Haaland won the positional awards for the 2020-21 Champions League.

Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy kept nine clean sheets in last season's competition as the Blues won the trophy for the second time, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

City defender Dias was named the best defender, while Chelsea's Kante – UEFA's man of the match in each leg of the semi-final and the final – won the prize for midfielders.

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland was chosen as the best forward in 2020-21.

The players were chosen from a shortlist of 12, who had each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Five of the 12 nominees were from Chelsea: Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Kante and Jorginho.

City had three representatives – Ederson, Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provided one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, were the other nominees.

The transfer window is not even closed but attention is already turning to next season.

Kylian Mbappe is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, while Erling Haaland's Borussia Dortmund deal has clubs queuing up.

Manchester United are reportedly set to pursue both.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE, HAALAND FUTURE RED DEVILS?

Manchester United have made Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe a target for next season, according to ESPN.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid and Saturday's Marca and Diario AS claim the LaLiga giants are still trying to sign the PSG star before the end of the transfer window.

Liverpool have also previously been linked with Mbappe, but United are keeping tabs on his situation, with the Frenchman out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

French journalist Julien Laurens, meanwhile, also suggests next year could be the perfect time for United to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has no shortage of suitors, linked with Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich as his release clause comes into force at season's end.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail says City are willing to sell defender Aymeric Laporte for £60million (€69m). The Spain international is reportedly wanted by Juventus and Madrid.

Chelsea remain interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, per The Telegraph. The Blues have also been linked with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who has also caught the attention of United and Liverpool.

- Diario AS says wantaway Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is eyeing a switch to Madrid, Barca or Bayern.

Real Sociedad are tracking PSG star Pablo Sarabia, according to Le Parisien. Sevilla could also reportedly rival Sociedad for the Spain international.

- Sky Sport Italia reports Juve are set to meet with Paulo Dybala's agent to discuss a new contract.

Erling Haaland is one of the most in-demand players in Europe.

Clubs from across the continent are queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund forward.

Real Madrid, however, are firmly placed to make a move for the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL EYEING HAALAND

Real Madrid believe a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could be done next year, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Kylian Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has dominated headlines as Madrid target the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But Madrid have not forgotten about Haaland, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says Bernardo Silva has turned down a move to Tottenham as part of a potential deal that would help send Harry Kane to City. Atletico Madrid and Barca have also been linked with City's Silva.

Pedri could sign a new four-year deal with Barca by September, reports Sport. The 18-year-old has been a revelation at Camp Nou.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are nearing a deal to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea. Bakayoko spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Milan. Di Marzio, meanwhile, says Milan are interested in bringing Monaco's Pietro Pellegri to San Siro on loan.

- Staying in Milan and Tuttosport reports the Rossoneri are interested in Sassuolo and Italy star Domenico Berardi. Leicester City are also reportedly among his admirers.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is dreaming of a move to PSG, according to Le Parisien. United have also been linked with the France midfielder.

Erling Haaland may stay at Borussia Dortmund beyond next season, Marco Rose has suggested.

Haaland was reported to be a target for Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City – among other major European clubs – heading into the current transfer window.

However, with many clubs on the continent struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic and, Chelsea having signed Romelu Lukaku, United moving for his former team-mate Jadon Sancho and City targeting Harry Kane, Haaland has stayed at Dortmund, with the Bundesliga club refusing to entertain offers for the 21-year-old who has scored a remarkable 62 goals in as many games since his arrival from Salzburg in January 2020.

Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who came out on top in a head-to-head tussle with Haaland in the DFL-Supercup on Tuesday, has scored more in the same timeframe across all competitions (76 goals in 64 appearances). 

Meanwhile, Haaland's expected goals (xG) total of 50.19 demonstrates he is finishing chances at a rate above what would be anticipated, while his minutes per-goal ratio of 82.19 ranks him third out of players to have netted at least 20 goals in the same period, trailing Lewandowski (72.87) and Atalanta's Luis Muriel (73.74). 

The Norway international signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Dortmund, though it is widely expected that BVB will be unable to their prized asset ahead of the 2022-23 season, with a reported €75m (£66m) release clause coming into effect next year.

New coach Rose, however, insisted that is not necessarily the case, pointing to Haaland still having three years left on his contract.

"He still has a long-term contract with us. Just because the public is constantly talking about him leaving next summer, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case," former Borussia Monchengladbach boss Rose told Sport Bild after Dortmund's Supercup defeat to Bayern.

"In the end, Erling has to decide for himself where he sees his future. In any case, we are happy that he is currently playing for us.

"Who knows, possibly it'll be even more than just one season if we write an extraordinary story here."

Dortmund have been tipped to challenge a Bayern team that are going through something of a rebuild under Julian Nagelsmann this season, though it was the Bavarians who came out on top at Signal Iduna Park.

Lewandowski netted a double on his former stomping ground, with Thomas Muller helping himself to Bayern's other goal in a 3-1 win for the Bundesliga champions - Marco Reus' stunner proving a mere consolation for Dortmund.

Eight of Haaland's goals for Dortmund have come from fast breaks, a record which trails only Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (11) out of players to have scored at least 20 times since January 18, 2020 (when Haaland debuted for BVB).

Haaland's pace and power was on show again on Tuesday, but he failed to get on the scoresheet, having a goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision, and seeing his only effort on target saved superbly by Manuel Neuer.

Dortmund's number nine started his Bundesliga campaign with two goals and two assists in the 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. He finished third in the league's scoring charts last term with 27 strikes, behind Andre Silva (28) and Lewandowski (41).

Haaland's exploits have not just been reserved for the Bundesliga. He burst onto the scene with Salzburg in the Champions League and thrived for Dortmund in the competition last term, scoring 10 times in total.

In March, he became the fastest player to reach 20 goals in UEFA's flagship club competition with a double against Sevilla, meaning he achieved the feat in just 14 Champions League appearances.

Bayern Munich were not the biggest club in their own city, let alone the country, when Gerd Muller signed in 1964.

The Bavarians' major trophy haul at that time consisted of a single league championship in 1932 and a maiden DFB-Pokal success 25 years later. Muller joined a second-tier side.

On Tuesday, two days after the club great's passing, Bayern celebrated his life in fitting fashion with a record-extending ninth DFL-Supercup triumph – a competition they have to win silverware simply to enter.

The Bundesliga dominance, cup after cup and six European crowns... all that history can be traced back to Muller's decision to head for Bayern rather than rivals 1860 Munich.

He was there for the first four Bundesliga titles – the top scorer on each occasion – and for three European Cups in three years, Muller's standards slipping as Jupp Heynckes was the leading marksman in the third season.

In 15 years, the remarkable forward tallied 566 Bayern goals, a benchmark that stands to this day. Muller's Bundesliga total of 365 is also unsurpassed.

As those numbers show, breaking a Muller record is no simple task, but Robert Lewandowski finally did so last season when scoring 41 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign, edging beyond the legend's 40 in 1971-72.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on his Twitter page in May. "I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for Bayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children – following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

 

It made sense then for Lewandowski to be front and centre again at Signal Iduna Park as Muller was remembered.

He clutched a number nine shirt ahead of kick-off as a moment's silence broke into applause, the Borussia Dortmund fans recognising a legacy that goes beyond club lines.

It was a lovely tribute, but Muller would have been more familiar with Lewandowski's subsequent nods to his greatest predecessor.

Muller was the ultimate 18-yard box centre-forward, a mantle Lewandowski has taken on and exhibited expertly against his former side.

Manuel Neuer, another of the Bayern players carrying a Muller shirt, kept Dortmund at bay at one end – finishing with four saves – before his club's latest outstanding number nine showed Erling Haaland and BVB's team of young pretenders how it is done at the other.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," coach Julian Nagelsmann said before the game. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, although his scoring rate is great."

That proven Lewandowski class brought a brutal, brilliant opener, his header from Serge Gnabry's left-wing cross thumped into the bottom-left corner. The outcome of a chance that was worth a moderate 0.29 expected goals (xG) was never in doubt.

And Lewandowski was involved again, in the box again, when Bayern appeared to put the game beyond doubt four minutes after half-time, waving a leg towards Alphonso Davies' low cross in an attempt at a flick that ran instead for Thomas Muller's tap-in, the late Bayern superstar's namesake having been the third visiting player to hold up a red shirt in a pre-match show of respect.

Perhaps the linesman was a Gerd Muller fan, too, twice ruling in Bayern's favour when Youssoufa Moukoko and Haaland each ran away to score – the second call considerably closer than the first.

There was no ruling out a blistering Marco Reus strike, which briefly threatened Bayern's control, but Manuel Akanji's dallying let Lewandowski in again and the Dortmund fans know exactly how that tends to go. This time with an xG of 0.25 – merely the fifth-best chance of the match – the 32-year-old made it look routine.

A seventh Supercup strike, Lewandowski extended another record that is all his own – albeit in a competition Muller never graced.

The Poland international is Muller's nearest challenger in Bundesliga terms, with 278 goals, and deserves to be counted in such company, even if he has just added to Bayern's reputation rather than transformed it. Lewandowski has also now scored in 14 successive matches for Bayern, which means he needs to score in just two more consecutive games to match another of Muller's all-time records (16, in 1969-70).

Meanwhile, this was not Haaland's night, but he too could have one eye on the sort of standards Muller set. Still just 21, Haaland has 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games – or one every 84.8 minutes – and Hasan Salihamidzic has acknowledged Bayern would be "amateurs" not to consider signing the striker.

Given the apparent inevitability of a transfer at the end of this campaign, the BVB sensation would seemingly have to join Germany's powerhouse to stay in the Bundesliga and close on Muller or Lewandowski.

Bayern do not need a replacement up front just yet, though, after their latest legend ensured 2021-22 would continue an almost constant theme since Muller broke all barriers, with silverware heading back to Bavaria.

Erling Haaland has been backed to get even better ahead of Borussia Dortmund's DFL-Supercup showdown with Bayern Munich.

Haaland is Dortmund's outstanding star, having scored 62 goals in 61 games in all competitions since his debut for the club in January 2020.

Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (74 in 63) has scored more in that time, while Haaland's shot conversion rate of 33.3 per cent is the best among those with 20 goals or more.

After a cup hat-trick at Wehen Wiesbaden and then a league double against Eintracht Frankfurt, Haaland's 2021-22 tally of five in two games already leads the way. His 15 shots represent another high, as does their expected goals value of 4.6.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann praised Haaland ahead of Tuesday's game against Dortmund but said Lewandowski's class was "proven over several years".

Meanwhile, Marco Rose, Nagelsmann's opposite number in the BVB dugout, suggested Haaland could yet get much better.

"Erling wants to be a complete player – he says that himself – and he's making clear progress," Rose said.

 

"He is still young and has so much potential for development. He knows that, too.

"Just imagine he takes full advantage of that, what a footballer he will become. We're working on that together."

Haaland also provided an assist against Frankfurt, with Thorgan Hazard the beneficiary. Hazard will miss the game against Bayern, however.

It is a match Dortmund enter ahead of Bayern in the Bundesliga, with the champions having drawn at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Rose is keen to send a message.

"Every game is a measuring stick. You should definitely try to win," he said.

"It's a prestige duel against Bayern and you can win a title – that's why we should try to win that. We want to show that we are there and ready for the season."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has hailed the "extraordinary" Erling Haaland, but says the Borussia Dortmund star has to maintain his form over several years to compare to Robert Lewandowski.

The two prolific goalscorers are expected to come face-to-face on Tuesday when Dortmund host Bayern at Signal Iduna Park in the 2021 DFL-Supercup, a trophy the Bundesliga champions have won in four of the last five campaigns.

Haaland enters the match on the back of a strong start to the season, having followed up a hat-trick against lower-league Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB-Pokal with two goals and two assists in Saturday's 5-2 Bundesliga victory against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Norway international Haaland now has 62 goals in 61 appearances since making his BVB debut in January 2020, including 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games for an average of 1.06 goals per 90 minutes in the competition.

Only ex-Dortmund man Lewandowski can better that return over the same period, scoring 57 goals from an identical number of appearances in the German top flight – an average of 1.35 per 90 minutes.

While Nagelsmann has been impressed by Haaland's incredible season-and-a-half in the Bundesliga, the recently appointed Bayern boss still thinks the 21-year-old has some way to go to match Lewandowski's consistency.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," Nagelsmann said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, though his scoring rate is great.

"The other difference is age. Lewandowski has a lot more experience on his side than Haaland. In terms of similarities, they are both an unbelievable goal danger. But I am incredibly happy to have Lewandowski here."

 

The weekend win over Frankfurt was the first time Haaland has provided two assists in a single competitive game for Dortmund in his 19 months at the club.

Keeping Haaland off the scoresheet on Tuesday will be a huge task, but Nagelsmann is confident his players – including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – are capable of doing so in the battle between last term's German cup and league winners.

"He is of course an excellent striker. Extraordinary. In addition to his goals, he is also robust and fast," Nagelsmann said. "We have to get close to him to prevent him from making runs in behind our defence.

"We have to be physically ready and be prepared to initiate the counter-press after we lose the ball so that quick passes up the other end of the field are prevented. We can't prevent that completely, but we still have the best goalkeeper in the world."

Nagelsmann has endured a difficult start to life as Bayern boss, not helped by a number of players returning late to training, with the reigning Bundesliga champions yet to win any of his five games in charge.

Bayern were held 1-1 by Borussia Monchengladbach in their first competitive game under Nagelsmann on Friday and the 34-year-old coach is eager to get off the mark with some silverware in midweek.

"I would like to sign for a win tomorrow and then go on and take the title," he said. "Dortmund have started the season well, whereas we're still waiting for that first win, but I wouldn't look into that too much.

"Of course this is an important match for us, but it's not necessarily important for the rest of the season. Both teams have a few injuries and the season is still young, but we are going there with the aim to win."

Nagelsmann also paid tribute to Bayern's all-time leading goalscorer Gerd Muller, who passed away at the weekend at the age of 75.

"My condolences to Gerd's family and friends," Nagelsmann said. "Yesterday was a sad day for everyone involved in the club. Gerd played a lot of great games and scored some great goals."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not among the final nominees for the 2020-21 Champions League positional awards.

On Friday, UEFA announced the 12 players, three per position, who could win the individual prizes on August 26.

The 12 players each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Messi came fourth in the poll for the best forwards, while Ronaldo did not make the top 10. Each player was eliminated at the last-16 stage, Barcelona losing to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus to Porto.

Five of the 12 nominees are from Chelsea, who won their second Champions League by beating Manchester City in the final. Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, N'Golo Kante and Jorginho are all nominated.

City have three representatives – Ederson, Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provide one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, are the other nominees.

The winners of the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward prizes will be announced at the group-stage draw in Istanbul in two weeks' time.

Julian Nagelsmann has long seemed destined to be Bayern Munich coach, and the 34-year-old now has his chance after succeeding Hansi Flick.

He has a lot to live up to. Flick, in his 18-month tenure, Flick led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, a Champions League triumph, Club World Cup glory, the DFL-Supercup and the UEFA Super Cup – a remarkable seven trophies.

While Nagelsmann settles into life in the hottest of coaching seats in Germany, his former team RB Leipzig will look to finally make a title challenge last, this time under new coach Jesse Marsch.

Borussia Dortmund scraped into the Champions League places thanks to a super run late in the season, and now Marco Rose will look to build on their DFB-Pokal success in his first season in charge.

Just what can we expect from each of Germany's big three in 2021-22?


Bayern Munich

Bayern ultimately claimed their ninth successive Bundesliga title with ease last term and Robert Lewandowski was once again the driving force. He had to wait until the last kick of the last day, but he finally broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 41 goals in a single campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern scored the most goals in Germany's top tier in 2020-21, netting 99 times across their 34 fixtures. Their tally of 483 chances was also by far the most in the division, 54 ahead of second-ranked Leipzig (429) in that regard, though they conceded 44 times while the Leipzig defence under Nagelsmann was the stingiest, with only 32 goals conceded. 

Bayern averaged 65.39 per cent possession and had 1,304 touches in the opposition box, over 400 more than any other side.

However, Nagelsmann does have to contend with the loss of some players who have been crucial to Bayern's dominance. David Alaba has joined Real Madrid, while fellow stalwarts Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng also left on free transfers.

Dayot Upamecano has made the same switch from Leipzig as Nagelsmann, and the young centre-back adds pace and dynamism to Bayern's backline. Other than that, the squad remains largely the same, with Sven Ulreich having returned after a spell at Hamburg, while Omar Richards arrived on a free transfer from Reading.

Even without much more in the way of incomings, it is difficult to see Bayern letting the chance to make it 10 titles in a row slip from their grasp.

 

Dortmund

Last season was a difficult campaign for Dortmund, but it was one which ultimately ended successfully. They clinched Champions League qualification and ran riot against Leipzig to lift the DFB-Pokal.

It was a fine parting gift from Edin Terzic, who took over on an interim basis after Lucien Favre was relieved of his duties, and now Rose – whose Borussia Monchengladbach team slumped in the back half of the season and missed out on Europe – will look to reshape Dortmund in his own way.

Renowned for attacking, front-foot football, Rose's style, if all goes to plan, is bound to be a hit with the Dortmund fans upon their return to Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund may have sold Jadon Sancho, but they still have Norway sensation Erling Haaland, who scored 27 Bundesliga goals last season from 93 attempts, giving him a shot conversion rate of 29.03 per cent, the third-highest in the league out of players to have scored 10 or more times.

Donyell Malen has arrived as Sancho's replacement, and Rose has already been talking up the Netherlands youngster, while goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has arrived from Stuttgart. Like Bayern, Dortmund said goodbye to a club legend in the form of Lukasz Piszczek, but with Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Malen and Haaland complemented by the likes of Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham, there should be plenty of cause for optimism.

It might well be Haaland's final season at the club, and you would not put it past the youngster, who also set up six goals last term, to propel Dortmund into the title race, back where they belong.

 

RB Leipzig

There are plenty of quality teams competing with the three leading lights, and it would certainly not be surprising to see Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt or Gladbach mount a serious push for Champions League football.

However, Leipzig have well and truly established themselves as a Champions League regular now, and will be looking to Marsch, who has made the transition from sister club Salzburg, to continue Nagelsmann's work.

Leipzig sold Timo Werner to Chelsea in 2020, and netting just 60 times, they clearly missed the striker. Indeed, midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, with eight goals, was their leading scorer, with forwards Alexander Sorloth and Yussuf Poulsen only managing five each.

In Andre Silva, signed from Frankfurt, Leipzig have a forward who scored more than Haaland in the Bundesliga last season, with the Portugal international finding the net 28 times in 32 appearances.

Silva boasted an impressive 'big chance', as defined by Opta, conversion rate of 55 per cent, while only Lewandowski (137) had more than the former Milan man's 117 attempts. Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku – who supplied nine and six assists respectively last season – can provide the creativity, with Poulsen and Sorloth able to offer Marsch a variety of attacking options. Caden Clark, who is starring in MLS, will arrive before the turn of the year, while Dominik Szoboszlai is almost like a new signing, given he is yet to feature for the club since his arrival in January due to injury.

Leipzig have faced a reshuffle in what had been a strong defence, with key man Upamacano departing while Ibrahima Konate has also left for Liverpool, though the acquisition of Salzburg's highly rated Mohamed Simakan shows the production line is still ticking along, and a Champions League place will be the minimum expectation. 

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