The ridiculously bad stats of Erling Haaland: Big-game bottler and ‘League Two player’

Matt Stead
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger
Erling Haaland is a stat-padder

Erling Haaland is a last-16 merchant who has often gone missing when his club or country have needed him most. Manchester City have an elite-level bottler.

Haaland was powerless to prevent Manchester City’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid, substituted and watching from the sidelines as Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic suddenly found themselves incapable of kicking a ball competently when unchallenged from 12 yards.

Antonio Rudiger, the defender who did such a phenomenal job in nullifying the Norwegian yet again, poured salt into open wounds by converting the shoot-out’s winning penalty to consign Manchester City to the prospect of having to pretend the Super Cup could be part of a Treble.

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Far more important than Real Madrid winning another Champions League based purely on vibes and raised eyebrows is the return of the Haaland Discourse. And the best and most hilarious part about the suggestion that Manchester City might be better off without a player who has scored 83 goals in 92 games for them is that it is an entirely justifiable argument.

The counter to it will always be ‘but goals’, yet beyond that Haaland does not suit this team and nor does this team suit him. Manchester City do not play to his strengths and without the same service as last season his limitations have been exposed. Roy Keane will have known his “League Two” jibe was destined to stick.

Fun as it is to laugh at Haaland for his low touch count or how he lost possession more times (14) than he completed passes (11) over two legs against Real, they are far more damning of Pep Guardiola, Manchester City and the system he is deployed in.

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Back in March, Guardiola said: “When you are involved in the game, when the time comes to score a goal you are more precise. It’s difficult to score when you do not touch the ball for 40 minutes. Sometimes it’s his fault but other times it’s our fault.”

Haaland had 12 touches after 40 minutes on Wednesday and a quarter of them were shots.

It was not even the “bare minimum” for Thierry Henry and there are questions to be asked of Haaland personally as his record in The Big Games continues to disappoint. And that is absolutely not a new development either, as these statistics show.

* Haaland has scored 14 Champions League knockout-stage goals in 17 matches, but 12 of those came in the round of 16 – and five were all in one game.

* In 2019/20, he scored two goals for Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 last-16 first-leg win over Paris Saint-Germain, but no goals in a 2-0 second-leg defeat.

* In 2020/21, he scored four goals for Borussia Dortmund in a 5-4 last-16 aggregate win over Sevilla, but no goals in either leg of a 4-1 quarter-final aggregate defeat to Manchester City.

* In 2021/22, he missed most of Borussia Dortmund’s exit in the Champions League group stages and their subsequent Europa League defeat to Rangers due to injury.

* In 2022/23, he scored five goals for Manchester City in an 8-1 last-16 aggregate win over Leipzig, two goals in a 4-1 quarter-final aggregate win over Bayern (to make it 3-0 in the first leg, missing a penalty before scoring later in the second) and no goals in either leg of a 5-1 semi-final aggregate win over Real Madrid, nor the final against Inter.

* In 2023/24, he scored one goal for Manchester City in a 6-2 last-16 aggregate win over Copenhagen (to make it 3-1 in the second leg) and no goals in either leg of a 4-4 quarter-final aggregate defeat to Real Madrid on penalties.

* Haaland has more yellow cards (one) than goals (zero) in Champions League semi-finals and finals.

* Haaland has almost as many yellow cards (two) as goals in semi-final and final matches across all competitions in his career.

* Haaland has scored nine goals in 25 quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals across spells with four different clubs.

* Since he joined Manchester City, Haaland has scored fewer goals in the Champions League from the quarter-final stage onwards than Bernardo Silva (four); the Norwegian striker is level with Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne (two) but they both have more goals in the semi-final and beyond.

* Haaland has faced Real Madrid more often than any other team he has never scored against at senior level. In four games against the Spanish side he has no goals from 13 shots; Manuel Akanji and Josko Gvardiol have both scored against Real in those matches.

* Haaland has “asked” to come off in games against Real Madrid more times than he has scored goals against them.

* Four different Manchester City players have scored in competition finals since Haaland joined and he is not one of them. Cole Palmer scored in the Community Shield and Super Cup finals (the latter of which Haaland at least scored in the penalty shoot-out to win), Julian Alvarez scored in the Community Shield and Club World Cup finals, Phil Foden scored in the Club World Cup final and Rodri scored in the Champions League final.

* Haaland has scored 56 Premier League goals but almost two-thirds of them (64.3%) came in games against clubs which either finished in the bottom half last season or are currently in the bottom half. Most of his goals have been scored against the teams in 16th (five, Nottingham Forest in 2022/23 and Everton in 2023/24).

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Is Erling Haaland a League Two player? Join the debate here.

* Haaland has scored two goals in four Premier League games against Arsenal, but they were the last goals in 3-1 and 4-1 wins, scored in the 82nd and 95th minutes respectively.

* Haaland has scored one goal in four Premier League games against Liverpool.

* Haaland has scored six goals in four Premier League games against Manchester United, but three were a hat-trick in a game when Foden opened the scoring, one was a penalty and one made it 3-1 in the 91st minute.

* Haaland has scored eight goals in six FA Cup games but they all came in the space of two matches – against Championship side Burnley (quarter-final) and Premier League relegation battlers Luton (fifth round). He failed to score in a semi-final win against Sheffield United, a final win against Manchester United or a quarter-final win against Newcastle.

* Haaland has scored one goal in two League Cup games, against Liverpool in the 2022/23 fourth round. He could not find a way through Nathan Jones’ Southampton as a second-half substitute in the quarter-finals.

* Haaland scored one goal for Dortmund in the 2020 and 2021 German Super Cup finals but they lost both to Bayern Munich.

* Haaland scored two goals in six Norwegian Football Cup matches for Molde in 2016/17, his only season playing in the competition. They came in a first-round win over Volda TI and a quarter-final victory against Kristiansund BK. He failed to score in a 3-0 semi-final defeat to Lillestrom in the semi-final, getting booked instead.

* Haaland scored four goals in four Austrian Cup games but none beyond the round of 16. Salzburg won the 2019 edition and it is listed among the striker’s career honours but he neither scored nor started in that tournament and was not even named in the squad for the final.

* Haaland failed to score in a Euro 2020 qualifying play-off semi-final against Serbia, in which Brighton and Norwich legend Mathias Normann scored Norway’s only goal.

* Haaland has scored eight goals against countries which finished in the bottom two of Norway’s World Cup and European Championship qualifying groups (v Latvia, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Georgia), but just two goals against countries which finished in the top two (v Netherlands and Scotland).

* Haaland failed to score at the U17 Euros in 2017, scored once at the U18 Euros in 2018 and scored nine goals – all in a single game – at the U20 World Cup in 2019, with Norway not advancing past the group stage in any of those tournaments.

* In the interests of fairness, Haaland scored eight goals in seven DFB-Pokal games. Two were in last-16 defeats to Werder Bremen and St Pauli, three were in a first-round thrashing of Wehen Wiesbaden and one was in a last-16 victory over Paderborn.

The other two came in the 2021 final. But Jadon Sancho opened the scoring in a 4-1 win against Leipzig so even then Haaland was just kicking a downed opponent.

AN ALTERNATIVE TAKE: The ridiculous(ly good) goalscoring stats of Erling Haaland

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