Real Madrid Effectively Contain Haaland in Champions League Semi-Final First Leg
Erling Haaland, the prolific striker of Manchester City, was unable to make a significant impact in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday. Despite having scored an impressive 51 goals this season, including 12 in the Champions League, Haaland was effectively contained by the Real Madrid defenders.
Carlo Ancelotti, the manager of Real Madrid, deployed a plan that saw Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba, Toni Kroos, and the defensive structure create a cage that Haaland found difficult to escape. Although the Norwegian striker had two shots on target for a 0.30 xG and attempted 12 passes, completing nine of them for a 75 percent success rate, he touched the ball the least number of times, the same as both goalkeepers, Thibaut Courtois and Ederson. Haaland also lost possession on five occasions and didn’t register any key passes or dribbles.
Despite starting well and forcing Courtois into making two saves early on, Haaland failed to stand out in the remainder of the game. He played all 90 minutes at the Bernabeu and didn’t manage to connect with Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gundogan, or Kevin De Bruyne up front.
Rudiger, who was tasked with marking Haaland due to Eder Militao’s suspension, offered a masterclass on how to stop the Norwegian striker. Rudiger lost his opponent just once in the 54th minute, but Alaba quickly came to his teammate’s rescue to block Haaland’s shot.
Such was Rudiger’s display on Tuesday night that he could be a candidate to start again in England despite Militao’s return after serving his one-game ban. Haaland did not commit any fouls and was fouled only twice, both times by Rudiger.
In conclusion, Real Madrid’s defensive plan was successful in containing Haaland, who had been in excellent form throughout the season. The result leaves the tie perfectly poised for the second leg, where Manchester City will be looking to turn the tables on Real Madrid.
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