English Manchester City reached the quarter-finals of the European Champions League for the sixth time in a row, but the five-star giant Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, who tore German Leipzig’s net during his team’s crushing 7-0 victory, sent a strongly worded message to the “Citizens” competitors in the continental championship this season.
Spanish City coach Josep Guardiola admitted that his reign at the head of Manchester City’s coaching staff would be judged by whether or not he won the Champions League, despite his team’s domination of the English Premier League title by winning four times in the last five years.
Seven years after his arrival from Bayern Munich, the Catalan is still panting after winning his third continental title, after he managed to lead Barcelona to the title twice in 2009 and 2011, noting that he reached the final once with City when he lost to Chelsea in 2021.
For this reason, the Emirati-owned Manchester City board of directors did not hesitate to pay huge sums to obtain the services of the Norwegian striker from Borussia Dortmund last summer, in exchange for a deal estimated at 61 million euros, in addition to millions of other payments paid to mediators and agents of the player, including his father.
A natural scorer
Haaland succeeded in writing his name in golden letters in only 36 matches he played with City, by scoring 39 goals in various competitions since the beginning of the current season.
He continued to collect records one after the other, the last of which was in the Champions League through his five goals against Leipzig, so he became the third player to score five goals in one match in the Champions League after Brazilian Luis Adriano with Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine in October 2014, and Argentine Lionel Messi with Barcelona, Spain, in March 2012. Through this achievement, 22-year-old Haaland became the youngest player to cross the 30-goal barrier, with 33 goals in 25 Champions League matches.
“I am very tired from the many celebrations,” Haaland said after the Leipzig match. “My greatest strength is scoring goals.”
Leipzig coach Marco Rose, who supervised him when he was in Dortmund, praised him by saying, “He was very thirsty. He scores with his feet, he heads, he wins second balls, he runs deep. Things seemed easy for him this evening (yesterday). It was a great evening for him.” “.
Haaland could have scored more goals and set the record for the number of goals in one Champions League match, but his coach decided to remove him after 63 minutes. The Norwegian commented, “I told him that I wanted to score a double hat-trick, but what can I do?”
Guardiola jokingly responded to the replacement of his star, “His life would be boring if he broke all the numbers before he celebrated his twenty-third birthday.”
And the Spanish coach considered that Haaland had adapted to City’s playing style and had become an integrated striker who was not satisfied with scoring goals, but participating in the game, and said in this regard, “He scored 5 goals today and I think he touched the ball 30 or 35 times (30). This is what we aspire to because we believe that he is When you participate more defensively and offensively, and when you receive the ball, you are more accurate.”
He continued, “He can do that, but it is difficult to score goals when you do not touch the ball for 40 or 50 minutes. Sometimes Haaland is at fault because he does not move, and at other times the responsibility lies with us because we do not find him.”
City has always lacked offensive efficiency, especially in the advanced roles of the Champions League in previous seasons, but things may differ with the presence of Haaland in its ranks.
The message may have reached the competing teams.