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Haaland reunion should fill Dortmund defense with dread

China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-14 09:36
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Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their first goal in a 4-0 Champions League rout of Sevilla on Sept 6. [Photo/Agencies]

Borussia Dortmund knows only too well of Erling Haaland's ability to destroy defenses in the Champions League, but the German club may die by the sword it previously lived by when it visits Manchester City on Wednesday.

Haaland blossomed into one of the world's most feared strikers during two and a half years in Germany, scoring 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund.

Eight games into his City career, the giant Norway striker with a devastating turn of speed has already scored 12 times for the English champion.

"His numbers in all his career, not just here but when he was in previous teams, are quite similar," said City boss Pep Guardiola after Haaland struck twice in a 4-0 win at Sevilla to kick off City's latest quest to win its first Champions League title.

"He has an incredible sense of goal."

Haaland's bargain buyout clause of 60 million euros ($61 million) meant he had his choice of clubs after he had outgrown his surroundings in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund may provide the perfect breeding ground for Europe's top talents to develop in the early years of their career, but it cannot compete financially with the continent's wealthiest clubs, nor satisfy the ambitions of the world's best players in the long term.

Haaland followed in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Goetze as stars of the future to fly the nest after briefly leaving their mark in western Germany.

However, losing Haaland may prove the biggest loss of all with the 22-year-old threatening to rewrite records set by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi that many believed would remain intact for generations.

Haaland's double against Sevilla took his tally in the Champions League to 25 goals in 20 games.

At the same stage of their careers, Ronaldo, the competition's all-time top scorer with 140, was yet to score, while Messi struck eight times in his first 20 matches in Europe's elite club competition.

"I love the Champions League. I have to say this, it's a big dream for me," Haaland told Telemundo Deportes this week as he revealed the competition's anthem is the ringtone on his phone.

"When I wake up every morning, I listen to this song. It's my favorite competition."

Haaland's haul in the Champions League was also why City was so desperate to sign him as the successor to the club's all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero.

Under Guardiola, City has won four Premier League titles in the past five years and six in total stretching back over the past decade.

Yet, the billions invested in the club from Abu Dhabi since 2008 have so far fallen short when it comes to winning the Champions League.

The past two seasons it has come agonizingly close, losing its first ever final to Chelsea in 2021 before blowing a two-goal lead in stoppage time of its semifinal against eventual winner Real Madrid in May.

Any doubts that the recruitment of a superstar could destabilize the collective effort that has characterized City's success under Guardiola have been blown away within weeks.

"This fella is going to break virtually every goal-scoring record there is," tweeted former England striker Michael Owen.

"He's too big, too quick, clinical in front of goal and he's playing in a team that creates dozens of chances."

Dortmund knows what is coming. Halting the momentum of the man mountain it used to call its own is another matter.




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