Alcacer in electric form ahead of clash with former club Barcelona

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BERLIN, Sept 16, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A former bench-warmer at Barcelona,
Borussia Dortmund sharpshooter Paco Alcacer is hoping to hurt his former club
when the two teams meet in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Alcacer, 26, joined Dortmund in 2018 after struggling to hold down a place
in the first team in two seasons at star-studded Barcelona.

He has flourished in the Bundesliga, bringing a killer instinct to
Dortmund’s young attack and regaining his place in the Spanish national team.

The striker now faces Barcelona in the middle of a purple patch for club
and country, having scored 10 goals in his last eight matches.

His opener in a 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday means he has
scored in every game for Dortmund so far this term.

He also picked up three goals for Spain in Euro 2020 qualification wins
over Romania and the Faroe Islands last week.

Alcacer’s electric form is reminiscent of his explosive start to life at
Dortmund as a loanee at the beginning of last season, when he fired in a
record-breaking seven goals in his first four games.

That run prompted Dortmund to shell out 23 million euros to sign him on a
permanent deal, and marked a turning point in Alcacer’s career.

“It is a liberation to be playing, getting time on the pitch and enjoying
my job,” said the Spaniard at the time.

He had just arrived from two frustrating years at Barcelona, in which he
was kept out of the team by an iconic attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis
Suarez and Neymar.

After a move from boyhood club Valencia in 2016, he made just 23 starts for
the Catalan giants, and played a full 90 minutes in just 10 matches.

– ‘A special game’ –

Yet as he prepares to meet his former team mates in Dortmund on Tuesday,
Alcacer has insisted he has “no regrets” about his time in the Catalan
capital.

“It will be a special game. It will be a joy to play against my former
team, and it makes me want to play well,” he told Barcelona newspaper Sport
last week.

The 26-year-old said that despite his struggles, he learned a lot at the
Camp Nou.

“When you play for Barca, you play high up the pitch and there is very
little space. Before, I was quite slow in my decision-making, but now I can
make quick decisions in tight spaces. I learned that at Barcelona.”

That sharpness has certainly shown this season, as all five of Alcacer’s
Bundesliga goals so far have been first-time finishes.

While he insists there is no bad blood between him and Barcelona, the
Spaniard has not ruled out celebrating if he scores against his former club
on Tuesday.

“A lot of people treated me very well at Barcelona. I don’t know what I
will do (if I score). The joy will be huge,” he told Sport.

If he does celebrate, it will be in trademark fashion, with his eyes and
index fingers raised to the heavens.

The celebration is a tribute to Alcacer’s father, who died suddenly of a
heart attack shortly after watching his son’s professional debut for Valencia
in 2011.

“I know it would have made him happy to continue to watch me play,” Alcacer
told Westfaelischer Anzeiger newspaper last year.

The striker is determined to keep his career on an upward curve, and is
eyeing silverware with Dortmund after narrowly missing out on the Bundesliga
title last year.

“It is not enough to come second,” he told Sky in August.

No doubt he intends to come out on top this Tuesday, and show Messi, Suarez
and co. what they are missing.

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