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Favre tries to play down Haaland hype after dream Dortmund debut

Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre on Wednesday attempted to dampen the hype surrounding Norwegian wunderkind Erling Braut Haaland as his side prepares for Friday’s Bundesliga clash with Cologne.

Haaland, 19, became the first player in Bundesliga history to score a debut hat-trick as a substitute when he came off the bench to inspire Dortmund to a sensational 5-3 comeback win at Augsburg on Saturday.

His jaw-dropping treble — scored with his first three shots — showcased the lethal finishing which saw Dortmund pay Salzburg 20 million euros ($22 million) last month for the exciting teen talent.

It was his sixth hat-trick of a phenomenal season that had already seen him net 28 goals n 22 games for Salzburg before joining Dortmund.

The rising star could make his home debut for fourth-placed Dortmund against mid-table Cologne on Friday, but Favre insists a knee knock Haaland picked up last month means he is not yet ready to play over 90 minutes.

“He’s only 19 years old,” Favre told reporters on Wednesday, refusing to say whether Haaland will start on Friday.

“He makes a great impression in training. He always gives his all and wants to win.

“But he didn’t train from December 10 until the end of the month and missed four and a half days at our training camp.

“He has to work on his base fitness — we must not forget that.”

– ‘A real weapon’ –

Haaland’s heroics last weekend saw him hit the headlines all around Europe.

Former Germany and Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann sees Haaland as “a real weapon for Dortmund because he brings a new dimension to their game”.

Former Norway international and TV pundit Jan Age Fjortoft says back home the nation is “incredibly proud” of the youngster.

However, Cologne hope to pour cold water on the Haaland hype.

“I hope the great story of Haaland will not continue on Friday and that we can keep him in check,” said Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn.

“Dortmund are of course more than just about Haaland and it is a huge task which awaits us.”

If his stunning form continues, Haaland’s signing could lead to former Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer heading back to Spain after falling out of favour. 

Haaland’s treble saw him follow in the footsteps of Dortmund strikers Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alcacer, who all claimed their first hat-trick for the club against Augsburg, with Aubameyang’s also coming on his Bundesliga debut.

After arriving on loan from Barcelona last season Alcacer made an explosive start with seven goals in his first four games.

Dortmund made the transfer permanent in October 2018 for 23 million euros, but Alcacer has proven to be injury prone and was left out of the squad last weekend.

He has not played more than 45 minutes since the start of November and has been linked to a move to Valencia.

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