Erling Haaland, the “last piece of the puzzle” for Manchester City to win the Champions League?

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Playing in European football’s premier competition is supposed to be tough. Haaland made him look anything but.

Haaland’s first goal came after just two minutes, and he completed the hat-trick before the referee even blew at half-time.

Upon signing for Borussia Dortmund in January 2020, Haaland showed no signs of slowing down and started breaking numerous Champions League records.

No player in the competition’s history has reached 10 goals in fewer games than Haaland; he became the first player to score multiple goals in four consecutive matches; and the Norwegian is the youngest player to reach 20 goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Raul and Zlatin Ibrahimovic are just a few of the all-time great strikers to grace the Champions League. Still, Haaland eclipsed them all on their debut.

And since his Champions League debut, only Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have scored more goals than Haaland.

LILY: The Making of Erling Haaland, Football’s ‘Humble’ Superstar

It’s not just in the Champions League that Haaland is breaking records. He scored a hat-trick on his debut for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and became the youngest player to reach 50 goals in the German top flight.

Former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt, who was the first Norwegian to play in the Premier League, says his remarkable goalscoring feats should come as no surprise.

“He’s a physical freak,” Thorstvedt told CNN’s Don Riddell. “He can run so fast, he’s physically brutal, he can push people away, but he has to get to know the patterns that Man City operate on.

“He’s really driven, really ambitious. He’s got his own coaches working on his physique… I think these strikers are a special breed, they just want goals and I think he wants to win the Golden Boot. and I think he wants to win the Ballon d’Or one day.”

Now that Haaland’s move to Manchester City is confirmed, ending one of the most disputed transfer sagas in recent memory, it’s easy to imagine opposition managers and defenders losing sleep over the idea of ​​confronting him.

After all, City are a team that have scored the most Premier League goals this season – 89 with Liverpool – without playing a recognized striker.

At times – notably in the crucial 2-2 draw with Liverpool at the Etihad – spectators lamented City’s lack of an outright ‘No’. 9 ‘to store the many opportunities that Pep Guardiola’s team creates.

While that might be an oversimplification of some of City’s problems going forward, there are certainly occasions when a player with Haaland’s skill set would have taken advantage in front of goal.

But playing for Guardiola can be notoriously complicated. The Spaniard is known to be one of the greatest tactical minds in history, with some players – see Jack Grealish this season – arguably struggling to master Guardiola’s philosophy and style.

While Haaland undoubtedly has the physical attributes to thrive in the Premier League, Thorstvedt says adapting to Guardiola’s style can prove trickier.

“He’s going to bring goals, of course, a lot of them, but he also has to get into Pep’s thinking, the way Man City play,” he said. “There are others in this squad who are better with skill, tight control, that rotation as players move around the pitch.

“He [Haaland] can do it, but not as well as the others. “It’s also fair to ask: how much better can Man City really get? I mean, can they really get that many more points in the Premier League? Can they really score that many more goals?

“But I think there’s still room for improvement and obviously the big thing is the Champions League, if they win this next season with Erling in the squad obviously everyone will point to him as the last piece of the puzzle. Finally. , they got it and they got the trophy.”

While Thorstvedt says Haaland is ‘really looking forward’ to working under ‘footballing genius’ Guardiola, his Dortmund team-mate Marco Reus has seen with his own eyes for more than two years the incredible potential the 21-year-old will bring at Manchester City.

Guardiola’s side slumped spectacularly in the Champions League again this season, conceding two goals in two minutes in the late 90s – and then again at the start of extra time – as they were knocked out by Real Madrid.

Chances were for City at the end of the second leg of this semi-final that it would be hard to imagine Haaland missing and Reus describes the striker’s skills as exactly what Guardiola’s side needed at that moment when things started to fall apart.

“Energy. Lots of energy,” Reus told CNN’s Darren Lewis of Haaland’s attributes. “A lot of positive things, the confidence. As a young player you’re just carefree, you don’t worry so much. When he arrived, we just saw his energy, which… actually increased.

“Of course, he’s also gained a bit more experience over time because he’s played a lot of games. He definitely has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the world. He’s still incredibly young. He has an incredible amount ahead of him.”

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