Football

PSG's Thiago Silva wants to stop Dortmund's Erling Haaland

PSG to contend with rising star as Dortmund would have to with Mbappe

Erling Haaland signed for Borussia Dortmund last month, and has since scored nine goals in six matches, winning him the Bundesliga Player of the Month award in the process.

The 19-year-old forward is clearly the man of the moment, but Paris Saint-Germain's experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is determined to keep the Norwegian out of the headlines.

ROUND OF 16, 1ST LEG
BORUSSIA DORMUND PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Both sides face each other in Champions League last 16, first-leg clash at the Signal Iduna Park tomorrow morning (Singapore time), where two prodigious talents in Haaland and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe will be looking to outdo each other.

Silva recognises the threat Haaland could pose, but the Brazil international is keen to test himself against Europe's latest striking sensation.

"He scores a lot of goals," Silva told RMC Sport of the 20-million euro (S$30.1m) signing from RB Salzburg.

"Nine goals in six games, it's incredible, it's huge. I hope that we will be able to be cautious and that he will not score against us.

"But, for us, it's wonderful to play against a player like that, especially since he's just started his career. He is very motivated, but so are PSG."

On the tie itself, he added: "Are we afraid? We have no fear, but we have a lot of respect. I saw the match (Dortmund's 4-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt).

"They have a lot of quality in front, they scored goals, with incredible technique, movements that are difficult to fight."

Ironically, Haaland sees Mbappe as a role model.

"When I was in Salzburg, I started scoring goals. But I look at Mbappe banging in Ligue 1 goals, so you can always reach a higher level," Haaland said of the World Cup winner, who is also France's reigning Player of the Year.

The 21-year-old has won three Ligue 1 titles with two different clubs and is PSG's top scorer this season with 24 goals.

Mbappe recently reached a century of club goals and his 19 in the Champions League is a record for a player before his 21st birthday.

Dortmund cannot afford to focus solely on an individual, though. PSG have included Brazil superstar Neymar in the travelling squad, among a plethora of star attackers.

MANY QUALITY PLAYERS

Forward Neymar has been sidelined for weeks with a rib injury and he also missed their 4-4 draw in Ligue 1 against struggling Amiens last Saturday, along with several other key players who were rested.

"They have so many players with great qualities and they beat Real Madrid (in the group stage) even without Neymar," Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said yesterday.

"Neymar is obviously a great player, but so is Mbappe and (Angel) di Maria. I can name at least 10 players on that team with huge potential."

Added Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel: "If Neymar plays tomorrow and I am pretty sure he will, then we have to take care of him. But they have so many good players, we have to be compact and we have to defend as a team and really be strong."

The second leg is in Paris on March 11.

Football