In August 2021, Erling Haaland missed a good opportunity to score when facing goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in Dortmund’s 1-3 defeat to Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup match of the 2021/22 season. At that time, Robert Lewandowski scored twice and had an assist.
Undeniably “Gray Lobster” has better equipment than Dortmund in terms of personnel, making Haaland rarely a triumphant song. This meeting in the Champions League, in the colors of Man City with equal strength, it is time for Haaland to prove his worth.
Challenge for Haaland
Haaland joined Dortmund in January 2020 and made an immediate impact. He scored 41 goals in 41 games in all competitions in the 2020/21 season. When leaving Dortmund for Man City in the summer of 2022, Haaland scored 85 goals in 88 appearances at Signal Iduna Park, but only won one title, the German Cup in the 2020/21 season.
With regular goals like that, Haaland has not been able to win against the biggest opponent in Germany, Bayern. Haaland lost all 7 encounters with “Gray Lobster” in official matches. After the draw result, a fan affirmed: “Light work for Bayern”.
Only when he landed at Etihad did the Norwegian player have a chance to taste the joy. The 22-year-old striker took just 12 minutes to score for “The Citizens” in a 1-0 win over Bayern in a pre-season friendly. From a beautiful attacking arrangement, Jack Grealish escaped and stretched inward to let Haaland cushion the goal.
With a favorable start, Haaland is expected to help Man City achieve success in the new season. And in fact, the former spearhead Molde is doing too well the task of scoring. In just a short time, Haaland soon proved its worth.
However, Bayern is a big challenge for this striker. Bayern is always a barrier for any team and can prevent Man City’s dream of winning the Champions League. The army of coach Julian Nagelsmann has only conceded 2 goals after 6 matches in the league since the beginning of the season. They kept clean sheets in all 6 matches against Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSG in the journey to win tickets to the quarterfinals.
Before a strong opponent, Man City needs Haaland to shine. The next two matches are when the striker born in 2000 confirmed that “The Citizens” was right when he put his faith in him.
Opportunity for Haaland
Haaland lost all the time against Bayern in official matches. However, the individual achievements of this player really stand out. In these 7 matches, Haaland scored 5 goals and had 1 assist. As mentioned above, Bayern is almost a force to be taken down in Germany. Dortmund at that time had Haaland still could not compete with “Gray Lobster”. Therefore, Haaland often receives a result when encountering this team.
Dortmund may have become too small for Haaland. This player needs to reach out to the “big sea”, struggling in a more classy environment. And Man City is said to be the ideal destination. Now, the situation may be different. Bayern may be wary or even afraid because the opponent owns Europe’s number one goalscorer at the moment.
Haaland took a leap in the Champions League top scorer race when he scored 5 goals against RB Leipzig in the second leg of the round of 16 on March 15. The 22-year-old striker put the ball on target in all 8 shots against Leipzig, achieving a 100% accuracy rate. He also became the fastest player to reach 30 goals in the Champions League after 25 matches and leads the list of top scorers this season with 10 goals.
Pep Guardiola made the confusing decision to withdraw Haaland when he had the opportunity to score 6 goals against Leipzig. “If Erling hit 6 goals in a game when he was 22, 23 years old, it would be boring. His football life is no longer interesting. Now Erling has a goal ahead of him, that’s why Why do I change people?” the coach explained.
Maybe Guardiola was joking. But clearly, he understood the importance of Haaland. He needs Haaland to maintain his desire to score goals until the end of the season instead of burning all his energy in just one game. Meeting Bayern was the perfect time for Haaland to explode. “My superpower is to score,” the striker soon sent a declaration of war to all.
Haaland’s goals look simple, but how long has Man City lacked a striker who “knows to cushion the ball into the goal”? In the 2021/22 season, up to 16 “The Citizens” players have conceded their opponents in the Premier League. But the more people score, the more it shows the fact that Man City does not have a true “killer”.
Summer 2022, Bayern missed the opportunity to recruit Haaland. Managing director Oliver Kahn told L’Equipe: “Regarding Haaland, the overall price tag is still huge. Investing a lot of money in a player is always a big risk. The player has to fit into the squad, both from a sporting and economic point of view”.
Bayern have a point to stick to their philosophy. But Haaland is showing he’s a bargain. If he helps Man City continue, Haaland can force the “Gray Lobster” to change his view of expensive contracts.
Xiaofeng | 19:00 March 18, 2023