It was not surprising that Manchester City confirmed their move for the summer of 2022, as he has always seemed destined to be one of the top clubs in Europe. What is truly remarkable is how Erling Braut Haaland, also known as the ‘Manchild’, made his senior debut at just 15 years old and quickly rose to become a world-class player at Borussia Dortmund.
In March 2020, Haaland, who was still in his teenage years, achieved an astonishing milestone by scoring 14 goals in just 20 appearances in the League Champions. He broke the record for the fewest games needed to reach this feat. His impressive performances made him one of the best forwards in the football world, as recognized by three different managers: Jesse Marsch at Salzburg Bull Red, Dortmund, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, where he had goal-filled stints.
Solskjaer, who had formerly been the top-scoring Norwegian in the tournament with 19 goals, remarked, “It was simply a question of time before he surpassed my goal tally in the Champions League.” “Remarkable is the number of goals he has accomplished at the age of 20. There are not many additional superlatives that can be used.”
Haaland possesses numerous impressive aspects in his game, despite primarily being a goalscorer with a simply astounding rate. He has the ability to finish with both his head and feet, as well as the skill to create and dribble. He also has clever movement and pace to run behind the defense. Additionally, he effectively involves others and utilizes his sizeable frame to hold up play. Haaland has all the attributes of a complete centre-forward. This is a tactical analysis.
When this happens, he has a good sense of creating space and turning with the ball. Sometimes, defenders won’t follow him so closely when he comes deep. He happily comes deep to collect the ball and help his team build play by spreading the wide ball for a teammate before sprinting towards the goal and turning. His clever movement and lethal combination make him a deadly threat.
Haaland, who moves the ball at a pace that causes real problems for his opponents, shows a great desire to get into a goalscoring position and make another run. If his teammates come deep to link up with him, they may be slow to catch up or may have been ignored around the first time, laboring to make a second run. He often overtakes players who had a significant head-start on him, using his huge stride to sprint past opponents. He consistently tests his opponents’ stamina and concentration, constantly moving on as a result. He is more capable of taking advantage of any lapse than his opponents.
He constantly tries to find a position where he can see both central defenders. As the team moves on, he stays in midfield, circulating play. His movement is a bit more subtle, especially when playing against a lower block in the final third.
Pep Guardiola should make something that suits him well under Manchester City’s football team, and he frequently plays a huge part in scoring. This is something that makes it extremely difficult for defenders to read him in all-important moments close to the goal, and he often combines double movements with a feint to take the ball away. He changes the line when he sees a little chance for the defender to react, accelerating and running into the space, and he often spots an opportunity for a teammate to find him in that space. As he approaches the goal, he makes sharp and small movements.
After receiving a clearance, he is also proficient in granting his team’s defenders some relief, as he can utilize his power to retain possession when facing opposition. When attempting to gain control, he effectively shields the ball while playing with his back towards the target and demonstrates good body control.
Haaland, an incredibly talented striker, excels in his ability to finish. He effortlessly scores goals from various positions, leaving defenders with minimal time to react due to his lightning-fast shooting speed. Despite his minimal backswing, he manages to generate astonishing power in his shots. Additionally, when positioned inside the penalty area, he seldom overplays his chances. His unwavering determination, exceptional technique, and immense confidence all merge to establish him as an outstanding goalscorer.
Dominance in the penalty box
Haaland played as the lone centre-forward in a 4-3-3 or 3-4-2-1 formation, spending a considerable amount of time inside the penalty area and coming close to scoring goals. He stayed high up the pitch for most of the game, contributing significantly to Dortmund’s performance.
Wide receivers and midfielders are moving forward to receive passes and create space behind the opposing team’s defense. The aim is to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position. Dortmund always looks to get the ball to Haaland, who is positioned between the lines, often using the number 10 position.
Manchester City’s expertise lies in their ability to execute low crosses or strategically position themselves to play cut-backs, frequently utilizing the inside channels to construct attacking moves similar to Dortmund. They often aim to deliver crosses or low cut-backs into the six-yard box, where players like Haaland can capitalize on the opportunity. Additionally, the movement and height of Haaland have been advantageous for players like Marco Reus, Giovanni Reyna, and Julian Brandt, who operate in the penalty area.
Haaland, who was found to be more penalized in the area below, drags the opposition centre-backs and also provides runs behind with his strike partner further forward. Haaland also linked well with the wide midfielders who moved temporarily into number-10 positions. In the Premier League, he also made moves with either Hee-chan Hwang or Daka Patson, both of whom were paired with Haaland in Salzburg.
Bellingham Jude or Hazard Thorgan, Reyna, Brandt, and Reus have been supporting him to run from midfield. He uses his body to protect the ball and delays releasing it, until he can find an opening. While he has proven his ability to play as a top-level central defender, he rarely drops as deep as a centre-forward like Harry Kane. Haaland can impressively link up play, but his strongest contribution in the game comes from afar.
Utilizing Haaland’s speed and agility can be advantageous for City, as players like Ederson and Rúben Dias have the potential to deliver precise long passes from deep areas to the left side, effectively positioning him in advanced positions. Particularly during counter-attacks, his ability to swiftly carry the ball at a high pace also contributes to creating opportunities for his teammates. Additionally, in the central position, he possesses the vision and skill to identify a delayed run from the midfield. However, when he ventures into the left inside channel, his main objective is to shoot with his left foot, showcasing his creativity by aiming across the goal.
He would create space behind his partner to strike and draw defenders towards the ball. He was particularly effective when paired with a second centre-forward – his direct forward runs, both on and off the ball, were more threatening for Salzburg under Marsch’s coaching. Haaland played better in transition for Dortmund than for any other sides.
Collectively, they have the potential to elevate City to unprecedented levels. Guardiola is an ideal mentor for Haaland to gain knowledge from, and few coaches surpass his caliber. Undoubtedly, Haaland possesses the talent required to ensure a triumphant transition. Observing how he adjusts his style of play under Pep Guardiola will be fascinating, considering Haaland’s lack of experience with a high-caliber, possession-oriented team.