Erling Haaland didn’t score for Borussia Dortmund against Manchester City but power, pace and creativity on display in front of Pep Guardiola amid transfer rumours – so what did Phil Foden whisper to him?

Erling Haaland may not have scored against Manchester City, but the Borussia Dortmund striker certainly showed enough to suggest the hype is real.

After ten goals in seven Champions League games this season, the 20-year-old sensation went into the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final at the Etihad with supreme confidence.

Haaland looked comfortable on the big stage once more against City

Pressure is something Haaland seems to thrive under; be it in front of goal or in front of the camera with journalists, and the heat was certainly on his young shoulders in Manchester.

Having been paraded around every premier club in Europe over the past fortnight by agent Mino Raiola, many expected the clash against City to be something of an audition.

With Sergio Aguero leaving City the end of the season after a decade leading the line, Pep Guardiola will be keen to recruit a superstar striker to replace the Argentine.

So how did Haaland fare in front of his potential new manager? talkSPORT runs the rule over the youngster here…

It could not have been a worse start for Haaland, who attempted to offer an option down the line for Raphael Guerreiro in order to escape the Man City press.

However, the ball skidded helplessly off the bottom of his boot and out of play for a throw in.

Haaland fluffed his lines after just three minutes with a poor touch in front of Guardiola

It was right in front of the Spaniard, with the Norway striker almost careering into Guardiola as he tried to regain possession.

The first sniff of an opportunity came when Jude Bellingham showed incredible skill and drive to wriggle into the City box and force a save out of Ederson, but John Stones beat Haaland to the rebound to clear.

Haaland is renowned for being a poacher – 49 goals in 50 Dortmund games is proof of that – yet he also has incredible link up play.

In particular, his movement to drop deep and support Bellingham on the counter attack in the 16th minute showed his underrated intelligence and drew a foul for his side.

But as the half hour mark approached, it became clear there may be one area he needs to work on in order to convince Guardiola – his defending.

The Dortmund striker was not particularly dynamic with his pressing, something Guardiola will have surely noticed

The 6ft 4ins striker is languid and deceptively quick for a big man, yet he was content to drop deep and jog back when Rodri picked up the ball on the centre-backs.

City are renowned for their intense pressing style and one would guess Haaland would be no required to do more in a Guardiola side.

In danger of going five games without a goal for club or country, Haaland started the second half like a man on a mission and showed incredible pace and power to get in behind Man City.

Ruben Dias has been a rock alongside Stones this season, yet the Portuguese was put on his backside with consummate ease and Haaland managed to stay on his feet.

The 20-year-old striker sent Ruben Dias flying in a tussle, but will lament his missed opportunity

Although his shot at Ederson was tame after he was knocked off balance, clearly he has the physical attributes necessary to compete in the Premier League.

Yet his crowning moment came with just seven minutes of normal time remaining when Bellingham fizzed a ball into his feet as he dropped deep again in the hope of creating something for the visitors.

A first time pass into the path of Marco Reus landed perfectly at the captain’s feet and he showed great composure to net the equaliser.

Haaland showcased his ability to play deeper with a fine assist for Marco Reus

For all his goals and freakish statistics, Haaland is a clever footballer and capable of dropping deep to vacate space in behind for runners from deep.

With Ilkay Gundogan scoring for fun this season and Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez tucking in to provide a goal threat from the wings, such an attribute could be invaluable.

Speculation about what was said between the striker and match winner Foden at the full-time whistle will continue to rage long after the game itself, yet Haaland proved he is more than just a goal scorer at the Etihad.

Haaland and Foden exchanged words at the end of the match – will they be teammates next season?

There is no doubt about what Guardiola thinks.

The City boss told reporters after the game: “He’s a top player, we know at that age you can link with him, he’s strong, top quality, top class player.”

With the tie finally poised before the return leg at the Signal Iduan Park, do not be surprised if he has another say before this Champions League quarter final is concluded.

Source: Sport

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *