Pep Guardiola explains Erling Haaland struggles in Man City's Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid

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Erling Haaland Manchester City 2022-23
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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has explained why Erling Haaland struggled to make an impact against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
  • Madrid held Man City to a 1-1 draw
  • Haaland could not find the back of the net
  • Was marked tightly by Rudiger

WHAT HAPPENED? The two European giants shared the spoils in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday evening with Vinicius Jr and Kevin De Bruyne scoring superb goals for their teams. However, it was surprisingly a rather quiet outing for Haaland, who did test Thibaut Courtois early in the match but struggled to have an impact as the game progressed with Antonio Rudiger tightly marking him. He managed to have just 21 touches on the ball, which was fewer than both goalkeepers Courtois and Ederson.

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WHAT THEY SAID: Guardiola admitted it was "not easy" for the Norwegian as he explained his struggles: "The pockets and distances between the central defenders and full-backs were occupied by attacking midfielders, [Luka] Modric, Toni Kroos and [Federico] Valverde. Twin central defender close to Erling, it was not easy for him. He moved well and had his chances."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Guardiola said it was a "tight, tight game" but was relieved that the second leg would be held at the Etihad Stadium in front of their own fans, which he considers as a "play-off" given the circumstances. "Tight, tight game. The Bernabeu in the semi-final, sometimes we had good moments and sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have on the ball. Final next Wednesday at home with our people. When we were better they score, when they were better we score," he added.

"They are so demanding, with the experience and quality. We are travelling to Manchester and we will see what we can do better. When you play this kind of game it is like a play-off, so hopefully we can learn, defend better and attack better."

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Erling Haaland Manchester City 2022-23

Guardiola Real Madrid Manchester City 2022 2023

Vinicius Junior Erling Haaland laugh post-match Manchester City Real Madrid 2022-23

WHAT NEXT? Manchester City have a trip to Everton up next on Sunday in the Premier League before they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on May 17.