In Focus: Bellingham will be key to Dortmund's fightback
If Borussia Dortmund are to produce a stunning turnaround at Rangers tonight, Jude Bellingham will have to play a key role.
The German giants find themselves 4-2 down after the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off tie.
As BVB get set to face Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men in Glasgow, we take a look at why this fixture is shaping up to be the prodigious midfielder’s time to shine.
Stepping out from the shadows
Bellingham joined Dortmund in the summer of 2020 as the most expensive 17-year-old in history, with Birmingham pocketing £25million for the youngster.
Despite the huge fee, the spotlight remained on their big-name attackers Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.
The former moved to Manchester United at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, while the latter took centre stage at the Signal Iduna Park.
But Haaland’s injury-plagued season and Donyell Malen's failure to hit the form he showed at PSV Eindhoven have presented Bellingham with an opportunity to step up to the plate.
And he has not passed up the chance.
In his post-match interview following the shock defeat to Rangers, BVB’s No22 made a big statement.
He said: "There's not one person in that changing room that will give up. I won't let them."
It is certainly impressive that Bellingham is willing to take on the responsibility of ensuring Dortmund’s star-studded squad deliver.
Following in his hero's footsteps
Bellingham grew up idolising Steven Gerrard and he is not shy about telling people.
Discussing which player he would love to have swapped shirts with back in June, he said: "Stevie G, easily to be fair. In fact, no it is not easy, I think him or [Wayne] Rooney are definitely close.
"But I think I would go Gerrard, though. The No8, similar position to me, so yeah, I would probably go with him."
Gerrard made a habit out of getting Liverpool out of tricky situations during his career, even when it appeared impossible.
This is Bellingham’s chance to do just that. With Dortmund needing a big performance, the stage is set for the teenager to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it around.
Last chance saloon
Dortmund suffered a shock DFB-Pokal exit at St Pauli last month and find themselves six points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga with just 11 matches left to play.
Though the title is still a possibility, it would require Marco Rose’s men to show a level of consistency that we are yet to see so far this term.
So, while the title race is not a foregone conclusion, Die Borussen might feel that the Europa League is their last chance of success this season.
After all, prior to last week’s defeat, many people had them down as one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Seville this May.
For some players, a move to Dortmund is the pinnacle of their career.
They are one of the best teams in Germany, have a track record of developing talent and their brand of football is universally recognised.
But Bellingham is not one of those players — he strives to be the best.
It is why, for example, he ignored the advances of Manchester United to move to somewhere he would feature regularly.
The Stourbridge native knows that clubs will be watching to see how he responds to this particular situation at Ibrox.
He is also fully aware that these opportunities — to turn a European knockout tie around — do not come around too often, so will want to make the most of it.
Goals win you games
Bellingham is an all-rounder — he can score, assist, carry the ball and break up play.
He will need to do all of those things if his side are to progress tonight. But goals will be vital in this scenario.
Without Haaland, who did not fly to Scotland for the game as he continues to struggle with a groin problem, Rose's team need a star performer to step forward.
With all eyes on Ibrox, Bellingham may just be the player to watch out for.