Champions League: Ivorian Haller, from rebirth to doubt with Dortmund

Back from his cancer treatment, Sébastien Haller had been twirling at the end of last season, until the last day when the league title eluded Borussia Dortmund. Today, he struggles to find his rhythm, like his stammering team before challenging Paris SG this Tuesday (19:<> GMT).

The Ivorian striker of Borussia Dortmund during the match against Bochum. August 26, 2023. AFP - INA FASSBENDER

By: Ndiasse Sambe Follow


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His return to the Bundesliga pitch in January and his performances in the money-time of the 2022/23 season had been described by Dortmund coach Edin Terzic as a "pure miracle". A little more than a little more than a year ago, the Franco-Ivorian had felt pain during one of his first training sessions with BVB. Doctors had diagnosed him with testicular cancer, he who had arrived in the Ruhr to forget the departure of Erling Haaland to Manchester City.

Six months later, after four rounds of chemotherapy and two operations, the centre-forward played his first minutes at the Westfalenstadion in mid-January. In five months, he scored nine goals for Dortmund, which saw him finish as the team's top scorer in the Bundesliga alongside Julian Brandt and Donyell Malen.

Impeccable until the last day, he nevertheless missed in the last match the penalty that should not be missed, at home against Mainz: the goal that could have revived his team in a Bundesliga final with twists and turns that finally saw Borussia cede the title to Bayern in the 89th minute and on goal difference.

The Füllkrug threat

After this cruel outcome, Emre Can's teammates have stammered their start to the 2023/24 season. If mathematically the record is good (two wins and two draws), the content was sluggish against Cologne (1-0), Bochum (1-1), Heidenheim (2-2) and Freiburg (4-2).

Starting in these four matches, Haller has only created rare chances, less well supplied with balls by the Dortmund midfielder, who lost this summer the Englishman Jude Bellingham left for Real Madrid for 103 million euros (plus 34 million euros bonus), and to a lesser extent the Portuguese Raphael Guerreiro left free to Bayern.

Result: no goals and no assists for the native of Ris-Orangis (Paris region). In the bi-weekly kicker, he gets the worst rating on average of his team over these first four games, 5.00 in a scale ranging from 1 to 6, the best being 1.

And to compensate for his very likely absence in the heart of winter, when the Ivorian international will play at home the African Cup of Nations (January 13-February 11), Borussia has recruited the German Niclas Füllkrug, who promises to be a formidable competitor at the forefront of the attack.

"He quickly inserted well, delivered an assist straight away, and had a chance from the right 20 meters from the goal. He won some aerial duels. It was very good," Terzic commented on Füllkrug's performance, after the victory in Freiburg snatched thanks to... central defender Mats Hummels.

Facing the Paris SG defence, Haller should theoretically be lined up, with Füllkrug returning from injury. "We will see how he reacts to this workload," said Terzic, who will see after training if the German international has more playing time in his legs than the half hour played against Freiburg. Until a possible tenure?

(With AFP).

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