On-fire Haaland shows Bayern what they are missing


When Erling Haaland takes the field for Manchester City tonight in Munich, the Norwegian will face the club who tried to sell the farm to buy him but failed.
Bayern’s late first-leg capitulation in the Champions League in Manchester means the six-time winners need to overcome a 3-0 deficit to make it through to the semis, AFP reported.
Not only must Bayern do so against Europe’s form team, but they need to somehow find the goals that the toothless front-line have lacked in 2023.
Midway through the second half at the Etihad, Bayern, 1-0 down after a Rodri wonder goal, were dominating possession and had carved out several chances, but failed to put any away.
Then, in a six-minute period, the brutally efficient Haaland showed what Bayern were missing up front, setting up a goal and then scoring another to put City on course for the semi-finals.
While Haaland’s flurry likely sunk Bayern’s Champions League hopes then and there, the seeds for their struggles were planted late last season, when the German champions tried and failed to sign the Norwegian.
After Robert Lewandowski signed for Barcelona, then Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann sought to spread the Poland striker’s goals across a dynamic front line.
While the approach had immediate effect – Bayern scored 26 goals in their first six competitive matches in 2022-23 – the goals dried up.
Nagelsmann reverted to backup central striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who again gave Bayern a focal point as the ‘Stoke City reject’ produced the best form of his career to score 17 in 28 matches.
Choupo-Moting however looks set to miss tonight’s encounter with back problems.
Despite a history of scoring against Bayern – Haaland has six goals and two assists in eight games against the Bavarians – last week’s 3-0 victory was the striker’s first win against the German champions. He lost seven from seven with Dortmund.
Since moving to City, Haaland has been spectacular, smashing records on the way to scoring 47 goals in 40 appearances.
Coming into tonight’s clash, the Norwegian has somehow managed to up his form, with a scarcely believable 14 goals in his past six games.
Bayern have eight across the same period, four of which came in one match against a wilting Dortmund.
Big-name signing Sadio Mane has not scored since October and is returning from a one-match suspension for hitting Leroy Sane in the face after the first-leg loss to City.
Instead, Serge Gnabry will likely lead the line, the same Gnabry who said in November he did not consider himself a striker “but it’s better than sitting on the bench.”
Meanwhile, Inter Milan stand on the verge of making the semi-finals for the first time since last being crowed European champions 13 years ago, but all is not well with a goal-shy team ahead of the visit of Benfica.
Last week’s superb 2-0 win in Lisbon gives Inter a great chance of setting up a blockbuster all-Italian last four tie, but judging by their domestic form, Inter should be nowhere near the semis, let alone have any hopes of making it through to the final in June.
Inter have lost more than a third of their Serie A fixtures this season – Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Monza their 11th in 30 games – and the win at Benfica is the only victory in their last eight matches.
Worse, they have lost their last three home matches without scoring as formerly prolific forwards have collectively misplaced their shooting boots.
Inter are averaging less than a goal a game in the second half of the league season, and while Lautaro Martinez hasn’t scored since March 5 in his team’s last Serie A win, over Lecce, the numbers for the Argentine’s attacking partners are even worse.
Edin Dzeko has been firing blanks since netting in the Super Cup against Milan on January 18 and Joaquin Correa’s drought extends to late October.
Romelu Lukaku meanwhile has had a nightmare return to Inter and will almost certainly be sent back to Chelsea in the summer after failing to rediscover the form which made him a Scudetto winner and idol two seasons ago.
The Belgium forward has scored just three times from open play all season, his other four goals in all competitions coming from the penalty spot.


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