Can Erling Haaland be Manchester City’s Champions League difference-maker?
After scoring 12 goals in eight games in this year’s competition, the Norwegian striker could fire them to European glory.
What is left to say about Erling Haaland? The Manchester City striker has broken records throughout his young career but his output has gone to a different level under Pep Guardiola.
Haaland has broken the records for the most goals in a Premier League season and the most goals scored by a City player in a single campaign. Since joining the English side, Haaland has scored 51 goals in 46 games.
“He’s an incredible guy and a huge talent. He has the power, the mentality and he is a serial winner,” Guardiola said after Haaland scored five goals against RB Leipzig in the last-16.
The Norwegian’s goalscoring is particularly impressive when compared to his Expected Goals (xG) figure in the Premier League. His 35 league strikes have come from an xG of 26.1, meaning that he has scored roughly nine more goals than an average striker would have done from the same chances.
With thanks to our friends at Sofascore, here’s how Haaland’s debut Premier League season is going so far…
The previous Premier League goalscoring record was 34 goals, held jointly by Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole. However their records came in an era when there were 42 games in a Premier League season, meaning that Haaland has beaten their record in around ten fewer games.
Can Erling Haaland make the difference in the Champions League?
After the victory over Leipzig, Guardiola was asked if he thought that Haaland was the missing piece that could bring the club continental success.
“No, I don’t think so,” Guardiola replied. “[In the past] the reason is that we conceded a lot of goals, we give them the opening… Right now these guys defend really well.”
But while defensive solidity will be important for City against Real Madrid, the additional of Haaland certainly gives Guardiola’s side another dimension.
Last year Madrid were able to progress through the competition by relying on spells that took the game away from the opponents. Karim Benzema scored 15 goals in last season’s Champions League, with ten of them coming in the knock-out stage.
The Frenchman scored crucial goals throughout Madrid’s run to the trophy and was duly awarded the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year. If Haaland can score the goals that take City to Champions League glory, his name will be high up on the list of candidates to win this year’s award.