‘Haaland is a b*****d. His link-up play is always perfect’: Pep Guardiola hails Borussia Dortmund striker for running his defence ragged as Manchester City’s £154m target proves his worth in Champions League clash at the Etihad
- Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland
- Manchester City boss labelled him as a ‘b*****d’ to defend against on Tuesday
- Haaland, who is a £154m-rated target for City, ran Guardiola’s defence ragged
- Guardiola insisted the 20-year-old striker’s ‘link-up play is always perfect’
- City beat Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash
Pep Guardiola has labelled Erling Haaland as a ‘b*****d’ to defend after the Borussia Dortmund superstar caused plenty of problems for his Manchester City side on Tuesday evening.
The 20-year-old, who is a £154million target for City and the rest of Europe’s elite, showed off his raw pace, power and intelligence against a strong Guardiola side, which caused plenty of problems for the hosts on his Etihad audition.
While Haaland did end up on the losing side in the first leg of this Champions League quarter-final clash, Guardiola was full of praise for the Norwegian striker, claiming his link-up play was ‘always perfect’.
Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (right)
Guardiola deployed his usual high press in order to shut down any Dortmund attack in order to win the ball back quickly and create more attacks, but the Spaniard revealed afterwards how he struggled to contain football’s hottest properties.
When asked if he was surprised about how the Dortmund midfield pressed his team, Guardiola told DAZN: ‘No, not surprised because I faced them when I was at Bayern Munich and they played five at the back.
‘The rest of them play that system and the quality of [Mahmoud] Dahoud, [Jude] Bellingham and, of course, the pace of the people up front – the quality is there. We know it was.
‘But when you want to press they play long balls. They play long balls to Haaland – Haaland is a bastard. Link-up [play] is always perfect and they have the pace so we knew it was not easy to control them.’
The Manchester City boss labelled Haaland as a ‘b*****d’ to defend against on Tuesday
With the announcement that long-serving all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero will depart on a free transfer at the end of the season, there is a space in Guardiola’s squad for a striker.
Although they will face tough competition from many of the most prestigious clubs in the world football, City are keen to sign Haaland to sign the sought-after striker and secure the long-term future of their attacking line.
Sportsmail reported on Monday that they could break their £100million ceiling and double their transfer record to make a proposed £154m move happen this summer.
All eyes will be on the 20-year-old once again for the second leg in Germany.
City take a 2-1 lead to Dortmund following Kevin de Bruyne’s 19th-minute opener before Bellingham controversially had a goal disallowed for a foul on Ederson.
Haaland was denied by City goalkeeper Ederson during the second-half on Tuesday night
Dortmund skipper Marco Reus brought the visitors level in the final 10 minutes but Phil Foden tucked home a last-gasp winner to give Guardiola’s side the advantage in Germany.
And Guardiola was delighted with how his side performed in Europe.
‘I want to congratulate the players,’ Guardiola told the club’s official website.
‘How they stuck together. The quality of the opponent, not because we were not able to do it, how much we fought and stuck together to the end.
The Premier League leaders have been linked with a big-money move for Erling Haaland
‘We won in the end, now we know each other quite well. First Leeds, and then we will take time to see them and go there to win the game. They had that chance from Haaland from a long ball and Ederson made an incredible save – but no more.
‘After 1-0, we took the game to our rhythm and Phil had chances. In the last 30 minutes he was our threat, if we could score goals in that moment, the game would be completely different.
‘We were there and the reaction after 1-1 when you could become crazy we didn’t. We won the game.’
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