Goal machine Paco Alcacer says playing against Atletico Madrid feels like ‘a toothache’ — and he hopes to extract maximum revenge for past suffering when Borussia Dortmund meet them in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
The 26-year-old, on loan from Barcelona, has needed just 109 minutes to score seven Bundesliga goals this season — the best goal-rate in the league’s history, which included a deft chip in Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing of Stuttgart to keep Dortmund top of the table.
In total, Alcacer has netted 11 goals in his last seven games for club and country but now has Atletico in his sights for the Group A showdown with both teams having won their first two games.
“A toothache to play against Atletico? Well, yes, totally,” Alcacer told Spanish newspaper Marca, having lost six of his nine games against Atletico for either former clubs Getafe or Valencia. He never faced them while with Barcelona.
“They are a team that concede very few goals and they leave few spaces, while they’re always very aware of everything.
“For a striker, it’s frustrating.”
However, his form has been anything but ‘frustrating’ since arriving in Dortmund in August after two unhappy seasons at Barcelona, where his path to the first-team was blocked by Luiz Suarez.
Alcacer’s goal exploits quickly wrote him into Dortmund’s footballing folklore.
“The freedom is playing, having minutes and enjoying the profession. I didn’t have the minutes at Barcelona and now I am having them, things are going well,” he added.
‘Always in my mind, Papa’
However, each goal he scores also carries a tragic reminder.
When he scored at Stuttgart on Saturday, he raised his arms to celebrate, as does after each goal, and looked to the heavens with the words “Always in my mind, Papa” tattooed on his left bicep.
Alcacer was still a teenager when his world was turned upside down on the first game of the 2011/12 season.
His father Francisco died of a heart-attack while leaving the stadium after watching his son play in a friendly for former club Valencia against Roma.
His father would no doubt be proud of what his son has achieved in just a few weeks at Dortmund, who have told Barcelona they want to sign him permanently, with his value estimated at around 30 million euros ($34.4m).
Alcacer endeared himself to Dortmund fans by scoring on his debut off the bench against Eintracht Frankfurt in mid September.
In his next game, he added two more, again as a sub, against Leverkusen.
Then followed a stunning hat-trick in just 31 minutes as a second-half replacement against Augsburg on October 6, which included a stunning 96th-minute winner by banging in a superb free-kick just before the final whistle to seal a 4-3 comeback win.
“We had hoped that he would fit, but we hadn’t dared hope that he would score like that,” admitted Dortmund’s director of sports Michael Zorc.
On top of his Bundesliga goals, Alcacer also scored in the 3-0 win at home to Monaco at the start of the month, then claimed three goals in two games last week on his return to the Spain team after a two-year hiatus.
Now comes Atletico, led by their French goal-king Antoine Griezmann, and Alcacer could well be the source of an uncomfortable night for the Spanish team at Signal Iduna Park.
“It’s clear that Atletico is a great team and a great club, a top club. But we need to make things difficult for them and go from there,” said Alcacer.