Guardiola happy to build on knowledge of ex-Dortmund players ahead of Champions League clash

Ilkay Gundogan doesn’t think Erling Haaland is nervous about facing former club Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Haaland will line up against the side he left for Manchester City in June when Dortmund visit the Etihad Stadium for the Group G tie.

The Norway international has scored 25 Champions League goals in 20 appearances, the most of any player in their first 20 games in the competition.

Fifteen of them have come in 13 appearances in the competition for Dortmund, and Haaland could become the second player to score a Champions League goal both for and against the German side, after Ciro Immobile.

The smart money is on him, given his remarkable start to life at City.

Haaland has scored 10 goals in just six Premier League games, that tally including two hat-tricks, and netted a brace in City’s Champions League win at Sevilla last week.

Gundogan spent five years at Dortmund from 2011 to 2016 before joining City, helping the club win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double under Jurgen Klopp in 2011-12.

But Gundogan expects the occasion to be more special for Haaland than for himself, although he doesn’t feel any concern about the 22-year-old.

“No, I saw him very happy,” Gundogan told a press conference when asked if Haaland was nervous.

“He was sitting next to me and was very happy, he was asking me [how I felt]. We are both very excited to play against our old team.

“For me it’s more of the past, but for him it will be much more special because he will know 95% of the team.

“I know a few players and I’m really looking forward to playing here and at Dortmund, it’s a special occasion for both of us.”

Sergio Gomez and Manuel Akanji have also plied their trades at Dortmund, the latter joining in the last transfer window, and Gundogan doesn’t think it’s possible for the quartet playing at his former club to take the emotion out of the game.

“‘I’m sure it’s impossible to take it away because we will have memories attached to Dortmund, I believe all four of us have mainly positive memories, so quite difficult to completely take away the emotions. he added.

“You deal with them in the best possible way, using them in your favour, not to get too excited, stay calm and cool, which can be the hardest thing in football.”

City lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in 2021 and then fell victim to a Real Madrid comeback in the semi-finals last year.

“The most important thing is the margin of error, the little details that decide, especially in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final obviously the margin is so tight that no errors are really allowed,” said Gundogan about learning these. experiences.

“The last few years the way we were eliminated was maybe a bit tragic in the way it happened, but I don’t think we should regret anything, it’s still an experience for us.

“It was amazing to play the final, even though we lost it, it was an incredible experience. As a competitor, we learn from it, we try to come back to it and do better. The objective of the season is the same, reach for the maximum and see what can happen.”

When asked if Haaland can make a difference in this competition this season, Gundogan replied: “We hope so. Obviously having a good number nine, a good striker, physically strong, determined is going to help us a lot. , but we will see.

“Winning the Champions League is something incredible to achieve, a very difficult competition, it’s never easy and small details can decide the outcome. We will do our best to go as far as possible.”

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