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Leipzig’s Marco Rose stunned at Haaland criticism

The Leipzig coach knows Erling Haaland well from the time they worked together. He cannot understand why the striker is being questioned at Manchester City.

RB Leipzig's German head coach Marco Rose (C) speaks to his players during a training session at the Ethiad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England on March 13, 2023, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 last second-leg football match against Manchester City. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Pep Guardiola was quizzed about Erling Haaland’s role at Manchester City in today’s press conference in Sportcity - a question which RB Leipzig coach Marco Rose says he finds hard to understand. Haaland will be one of the threats that Rose’s team must deal with in Tuesday’s Champions League Last 16 return leg at the Etihad. When asked to give his opinion about the criticism which Haaland has received, Rose quipped, “If you don’t want him, send him to me!”

Leipzig’s Marco Rose stunned at Haaland criticism

Haaland averaging almost a goal a game

Leipzig managed to keep Haaland quiet in last month’s first leg, which ended 1-1; and they will need to put in a similar performance when the tie is decided in Manchester tomorrow night. Haaland has scored 34 goals in 35 games for City - including five in this edition of the Champions League.

Rose knows the 22-year-old well - they coincided for one season when he was in charge at Borussia Dortmund in 2021/22. Some commentators have argued that Haaland is unsuited to Pep Guardiola’s possession-based style of play. The City coach admitted today that while the Norwegian has improved since joining the club, he wants him to be “more involved” in the team’s game.

Rose however cannot see any downside to Haaland’s presence in City’s attack and believes it is impossible to keep him quiet for the full 90 minutes. “If you don’t want him, send him to me! I’ll take him,” Rose said at Monday’s pre-match press conference. “Even just for the last 10 games. After that, you can have him back! I’m really surprised that he has received criticism. He’s scored 28 goals in 26 league games. If you take those goals away, I don’t know where City would be in the table. I don’t know what we’re talking about. Everyone knows about Haaland’s qualities. We were able to defend well against him in the first leg, but you’ll never be able to keep him completely quiet. They don’t just have Erling – there will be many world-class players we’ll need to be alert to.”

Haaland’s figures in the Champions League are astonishing - 17 goals in 11 home games; he has scored two or more goals on seven occasions and averaged a goal every 49 minutes in those matches. In this edition he is averaging a goal per game, with five goals in five outings.

City’s home record in Europe

City are in a 23-match unbeaten streak at home in the Champions League - their last defeat at the Etihad was two and a half years ago (Olympique Lyon won 1-3 in August 2020). Rose knows that if Leipzig are to have any chance of progressing to the quarter finals, they will need to produce their best performance so far this season. “We played against Man City three weeks ago. We know exactly what we’ll be up against,” he reasoned. “In the end, you have to find the right balance against a top team like that. Trust, confidence and us playing our best game of the season - that’s what we will need tomorrow.”