Pep Guardiola has in recent months dismissed suggestions that he signed Erling Haaland to win the Champions League. The Norwegian is scoring with surprising ease and has twelve goals in this edition of the Champions League, Guardiola has always defended that the problem for City to conquer ‘Orezona’ is not offensive production, but defending.
And she’s right. From the 2017 defeat against Monaco, settled by a 6–6 aggregate and double the value of away goals, to the 6–5 defeat against Real Madrid last year, City have always scored a lot, but have also Too much has been received. The Champions League needs more than a champion.
That is why they adjusted the defence, dismissing Aymeric Laporte, relying on the pairing of Ruben Dias, John Stones, with the latter in touch to act as an additional midfielder, and two full-backs who could play in the offensive. More defensive were: Nathan Eke and Manuel Akanji.
A defensive and pragmatic approach that paid off at the Santiago Bernabéu, where the match didn’t get out of hand like last year, but which now needs the presence of its star to complete the project.
It is no coincidence that the City massage room features an image showing three titles at stake, the Premiership, the Champions League and the FA Cup subtitled “Goals”, objectively, in English. Because Guardiola wants the treble and this Wednesday many spotlights, all from England, will be pointed towards him, and towards the man who is essentially linked to this success, Haaland.
There were many reasons to persuade the Norwegian to sign for City and no other team last summer. His father with City, Alfie’s story, his economic claims, the allure of the premiership, his star status, the dose of Guardiola, who does not hesitate to suit him despite scoring five goals in a game, and Guardiola himself.
It was offered by City, which expected only one thing in return: its first Champions League.
The Norwegian has, to date, responded to two of the most transcendental games City have played at continental level. In the second leg against Leipzig he scored five goals after a 1–1 first leg, and against Bayern Munich he scored one and gave another in the first leg and sealed the tie with a second goal in the second leg.
They are now under pressure to not play well at the Santiago Bernabéu, partly due to the impressive performance of Antonio Rudiger, and if the Community Shield final against Liverpool is lost, the first big disappointment of the season is closer than ever . , when many believed that that afternoon’s winner, Darwin Nuñez, would score more goals than he had this season.
Since then, everything has gone smoothly for Haaland, who between goals and assists has participated in 50% of the goals scored by City at the Etihad Stadium. Which is why Guardiola has 10 minutes to go against Everton this Sunday to maintain his fitness and prepare against Real Madrid.
“We have to take care of him 24 hours a day, so our doctors and physios are always with him,” Guardiola said of one player. He hangs the image of the Champions League.
This Tuesday, Haaland will eat a lasagna like before every important game, and put on the shoes in which he has passed 35 and 36 for goals in the Premier League this weekend. His target, a Real Madrid with which he has always been linked and which he rejected for a deal: to bring the first Champions League to Manchester.