Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Guardiola claims Man City found perfect formula, as pundits name mind-boggling Haaland goal predictions

Pep Guardiola, Man City, September 2022

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola lauded his side for a response to a sluggish first half by scoring three more goals to thump Sevilla 4-0.

City got their Champions League campaign off to a flying start with the victory over the Spanish side in Seville. Erling Haaland was once again the star of the show, taking his tally to 12 goals in his first seven games since signing.

The first saw him volley in a simple tap-in from Kevin de Bruyne’s accurate cross from the right to make it 1-0.

The visitors continued to dominate but could not settle the contest until the second half. Nevertheless, after 58 minutes, Phil Foden netted into the far corner after some twisting and turning in and around the box.

And after Foden then had a shot saved by Sevilla goalkeeper Bono, Norway striker Haaland enjoyed another simple tap-in.

Then, in second-half stoppage time, Ruben Dias made it 4-0 as City cruised to an easy three points.

Guardiola told BT Sport: “We make a not good first half in terms of we wanted to attack too quick. They were playing better, we scored the second one, what a brilliant action from Phil. After, it was easy.

“We gave more passes, we sometimes want to arrive [in the box] so, so quick because Erling is there, he has this attraction about him. We want to attack, but we have to make more passes.”

Guardiola said Haaland has an “incredible sense of the goal” and could easily have had another City hat-trick.

As for Foden, the manager claimed the England international is “not playing so good like normally”, but “always does a job for the team”.

Pundits make Haaland, Man City predictions

Pundits Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott and Owen Hargreaves insisted that the lack of defensive marking on Haaland in the box is making life easier for him.

Lescott said: “Haaland‘s timing is off the speed of the ball and Kevin’s cross, so you only have to bump him half a yard and then it affects all his timings off.”

Hargreaves urged opposition teams to start marking Haaland tighter, with former City defender Lescott adding: “One hundred per cent. You’re not always going to stop him scoring, but you have to be in contact.”

Still, the trio did not argue about Haaland’s goalscoring potential this season. In fact, all three backed the striker to break the Premier League record of 32 goals in a season – set by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in 2018.

Ferdinand insisted that Norway’s absence at the World Cup will make Haaland think he “surely has to play more minutes” after a rest midway through the season to get more goals.

Hargreaves said: “It’s 12 goals in the first week of September, it has to be 40-plus.”

Ferdinand backed Haaland to get 41 goals in all competitions this season, Lescott said “early 40s” and and Hargreaves 45.

Striker is perfect Guardiola fit

The predictions for Haaland upon his move to City were that he would not score long-range, out-of-this-world goals, but simple ones that count all the same.

The predictions said he would score more of the chances City created from aerial crosses and low balls into the box.

And that is exactly what he has done. Twelve goals in seven games – one every 54 minutes on average – makes predicting what he will finish the season on a scary prospect.

Of course, he will have to stay fit, but as Ferdinand points out, Haaland’s rest while the World Cup is on can do him the world of good on that front.

Haaland has now scored 25 goals in his first 20 Champions League games. For reference, Cristiano Ronaldo had not opened his account in the competition after the same number of games.

And the Portuguese has gone on to become the Champions League’s all-time record goalscorer. As such, Haaland could well have that record in his sights.