Bellingham unsure how to stop former team-mate Haaland
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham admits he does not know how to stop Erling Haaland as the Manchester City striker prepares to face his former club.
The Norwegian, 22, has made a flying start with the Citizens since his £51million move from the Bundesliga outfit in the summer, scoring 12 times in seven appearances.
City welcome Dortmund to the Etihad in the Champions League tonight looking to back up a 4-0 win over Sevilla in their Group G opener, during which Haaland netted twice.
And 19-year-old Bellingham, who forged a promising partnership with the scoring sensation at the Signal Iduna Park, says stifling his former team-mate will be a team effort.
Asked how best to combat Haaland, he admitted: "I’m not really sure to be honest. We’ll have to find out tomorrow.
"He’s a player with a lot of quality and a lot of physical attributes that make him dangerous and like I said it’s not an individual task, it’s something that the team have to deal with collectively.
"If we stick together and try to do the right things without the ball then it can be possible."
Focused Bellingham plays down links
Dortmund secured their own impressive win in their European opener last week, with Bellingham on the scoresheet in a 3-0 home win over Besiktas.
The former Birmingham starlet’s stock continues to rise and he is continually linked with a move to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.
But the teenager has played down that speculation, insisting his sole focus is on his current club and tonight’s clash against the Premier League champions.
He added: "The club have done loads for me and made me feel very welcome since I first came and gave me the opportunities to develop even further.
"To look past that and into the future would be disrespectful."
Asked if returning to England is a long-term ambition of his, Bellingham added: "It’s not something I am thinking about, to be honest.
"It’s a massive game against Man City. To even be thinking about something like that would be crazy."
While Bellingham knows one of tonight’s opponents well, City have some inside knowledge of their own with four of their current players previously starring for the Rhine-based side.
Summer signings Manuel Akanji and Sergio Gomez join Haaland in previously lining up for them, while Ilkay Gundogan made the move in 2016.
German midfielder Gundogan is excited for the visit of his old side and played down the prospect of Haaland having any nerves ahead of the clash.
He said: "No [he is not nervous], he said he was very happy and asked me what I was thinking [when draw was made].
"For me it is quite in the past — I have been here six years now. It will be more special for him than me because he knows 95% of the squad.
"I know a few and I am very excited for the game here and the one in Dortmund. It will be very special for me.
"I am sure it is impossible to take it out [the emotion]. All of us have memories attached to Dortmund. All of us have mainly positive memories.
"It is going to be difficult to take emotions out completely, but we deal with them always as professional football players.
"We need to use them in our favour, be calm and cool and that is sometimes the hardest thing."
Did you know?
This will be the third campaign in which City and Dortmund have met in the Champions League, with the English side winning both legs of their quarter-final tie in 2020-21.
The hosts have won their last eight home games against German teams in the competition by an aggregate score of 30-9. The last to win at the Etihad were a Bayern Munich side coached by Pep Guardiola in 2013 (3-1).
Dortmund are searching for their first away victory against an English outfit since October 2013, losing to Arsenal, Tottenham and City during that time.
The Citizens are unbeaten in their last 20 home games in Europe’s elite competition, winning 18 and drawing two.
Haaland has scored 25 goals in his 20 Champions League outings, the most any player has ever managed in that number of games.
Bellingham has scored three Champions League goals for Dortmund — the joint-most of any English teenager alongside Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden.