The first leg of UEFA Champions League round of 16 kicks off tonight with Dortmund taking on visiting PSG at Westfalenstadion in Germany.
Ironically the only time Borussia Dortmund have made it past the round of 16 stage in the past 5 seasons was under the helm of current Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel during their 2016/17 campaign.
Dortmund and PSG last faced each other in the 2010/11 Europa group stages with both encounters ending in draws.
With Neymar and Mbappe both available to Tuchel and the introduction of Haaland for Dortmund, it’s anyone guess as to how the game will play out.
DORTMUND PREDICTIONS, UPDATES & STATS
Borrusia Dortmund will be looking to their new signing Erling Braut Haaland to help the German hosts pull through the first leg of the round of 16 stage.
Dortmund are currently third in the Bundesliga having won their most recent Bundesliga game 4-0 against Eintracht with Haaland scoring in that match.
The German club will be without Reus who is out with a thigh injury and Delaney who is recovering from a knee injury. Brandt is also still looking unlikely to play given his recent ankle injury.
The possible line up for Dortmund may look something like this:
Bürki; Zagadou, Hummels, Piszczek; Hakimi, Guerreiro; Sancho, Can, Witsel, Hazard; Haaland
Hazard will have to be on his best behaviour as he could miss the next game if booked during this encounter.
PSG PREDICTIONS, UPDATES & STATS
The return of Neymar has greatly boosted the team’s confidence with manager Thomas Tuchel stating the following in Monday’s press conference:
“He’s fine, he’s going to train, and will play if nothing happens to him,”
“He has the quality, the confidence and the ability to do decisive things. His presence changes everything – it gives me and his team-mates a lot of confidence.”
“If he’s missing, he’s missing – but we don’t have another player of that quality.”
PSG have been knocked out at this stage of the UEFA Champions League for the past 3 seasons, are currently top of France’s Ligue 1, are in the semi-finals of the French Cup and are also in the League Cup finals.
With Dagba out due to a knee injury and Diallo out with a thigh injury, a possible PSG line-up would look something as follows:
Navas; Meunier, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Di María, Verratti, Marquinhos, Neymar; Sarabia, Mbappé.
Di Maria, Verratti and Meunier will need to play cautiously as they face missing the return leg should they be booked in tonight’s game.
THE GAME BEHIND THE GAME
Tonight’s match between PSG and Dortmund may also mark the beginning of a new generation rivalry like that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
PSG World Cup champion Kylian Mbappe will finally go head to head with Dortmund’s record-breaking 19-year-old Erling Braut Haaland who since joining the German club this January has scored an amazing 9 goals in 6 appearances.
We wait to see how things play out when these two young emerging titans clash of the first time as Dortmund take on PSG at home for the first leg of the round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League, tonight.