BORUSSIA DORTMUND chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke believes the German club have a psychological advantage over Paris Saint-Germain after Erling Braut Haaland’s goals sealed a 2-1 win over the French club in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The Norwegian teenager struck twice in Tuesday’s last 16, first leg at the Signal Iduna Park to steal the limelight from Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and the other stars in the PSG ranks.
Neymar looked to be lacking full match fitness after two weeks out with a rib problem, yet he still produced a precious away goal to give PSG a lifeline for the return leg on March 11.
However, Watzke says the Bundesliga side hold a mental edge as the French champions are desperate to avoid exiting in the last 16 for the fourth straight season.
“They have that Manchester United trauma,” he said referring to PSG’s exit last season when they beat United 2-0 away at Old Trafford in the first leg only to be dumped out on away goals after a 3-1 defeat at the Parc de Princes.
“For them, the world will collapse if they go out. I think we have the psychological advantage now.”
They also have Haaland, who has now scored 11 goals in his first seven games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January.
The 19-year-old also became the Champions League’s joint top-scorer this season with 10 goals, after also netting eight times in the group stage for the Austrians before his transfer last month.
As media across Europe duly noted, he appeared to be born to play at the highest level of continental football.
“Haaland already looks more comfortable at this level than Paris Saint-Germain,” noted The Independent in the UK.
The striker’s imposing physical presence and ability to read the game with an attacker’s instinct was considered a deadly combination.
“The immense talent of the immense Haaland can be frightening, as he looked like Marco van Basten after swallowing LeBron James for breakfast,” said French sports daily L’Equipe.
In Spain, sports daily Marca said how “the giant Haaland has put PSG on the ropes” with the Parisians now under immense pressure to deliver at home next month.
Even PSG coach Thomas Tuchel could not help being impressed with Haaland’s finishing.
“He is an animal,” said Tuchel, the former Dortmund coach.
“He has this physical presence, an uncanny energy and speed. His first was a poacher’s finish, the other was a beautiful goal.”