Saturday, November 26, 2022

Guardiola says no one can compete with Haaland

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claims Erling Haaland is beyond comparison and even better than the statistics suggest.

Haaland has made a stunning start at the English champions, scoring 17 goals in just 11 appearances since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund.

The Norwegian’s hat-trick against Manchester United on Sunday was remarkably his third in successive home English Premier League (EPL) games.

The 22-year-old is averaging a goal every 54 minutes, has had 42 shots and has also laid on three assists, two of which came in the 6-3 derby demolition of Manchester United.

On Wednesday he will hope to add further to his record of 26 career UEFA Champions League goals from 21 matches as Manchester City host FC Copenhagen.

Guardiola said on Tuesday: “At his age no one can compete with him.

“The numbers speak for themselves and inside, in the locker room, and on the pitch we see things that are not in the stats that make us feel happy to have him here.”

Haaland was not the only Manchester City player to shine on Sunday with midfielder Phil Foden, also 22, claiming a hat-trick.

In spite of the high standards being set, Guardiola believes there is more to come from both of them.

The Spaniard said: “Phil is an exceptional player. He grew up a lot and is already many years with us.

“He’s reliable in terms of his physical condition and he’s so intense and clever in everything. He is able to play every three days.

“But both know they can do better and hopefully they can do it.”

One player yet to sparkle this term is Riyad Mahrez, who was one of the stars of last season’s title win and their run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

The Algeria international has started just four times and has not scored.

Guardiola said: “I know perfectly Riyad, how important (he is).

“We need him to come back to his best —- his best in terms of personality, ability, quality, his love for this game and how he enjoys playing.

“Step by step he will come back. Now he’s not playing much, but he has to come back in better physical condition and then the rest will come along.

“As a player I cannot teach him anything, he’s too good.”

Manchester City already have a three-point lead in Group G after winning their opening two matches against Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund.

They will now hope to take a firm stride to the last 16 in their back-to-back matches against the Danish champions.

Guardiola wants to put the elation of the weekend aside to focus on the next task.

He said: “You have to pay attention. A mistake and now you don’t have time to recover. We know how important our home games are.

“I spent last night and this morning watching FC Copenhagen. They are really good, well organised and you have to be careful.

“You have to come back to reality and put our effort in to win an important game. If we are able to make nine points from three games we’d be so close to the next stage.”

Right-back Kyle Walker looks set to miss out after being forced off against Manchester United while midfielder Rodri’s calf problem will be assessed.

“We will train this (Tuesday) afternoon and we will know exactly,” Guardiola said.

dpa/NAN

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