Erling Haaland chasing Cristiano Ronaldo’s record as Eddie Howe’s Newcastle rotation backfires – Champions League hits and misses | Football News
After Erling Haaland twisted his ankle in Saturday’s thrashing of Bournemouth, there was scepticism about risking him against Young Boys ahead of a tough run starting with a trip to Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports.
But Haaland, who was second behind Lionel Messi at this year’s Ballon d’Or awards, is thinking of a much bigger picture when he applies the pressure on Pep Guardiola to let him play.
After finishing as the Champions League’s top scorer in two of the last three seasons, he knows just what is required to take home that prize. He didn’t want to miss the chance to add to his tally against one of the weaker teams in the competition.
Haaland didn’t waste his chance, either, scoring twice to take his total to 39 Champions League goals in 34 games. At just 23, he can already set his sights on Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 140.
The Norway striker needs 102 goals to surpass Ronaldo which, at his current rate, would take 89 more games. There’s a long way to go, but Haaland is on his way.
Eyebrows were raised when Eddie Howe named his Newcastle team for the 2-0 loss at Dortmund. Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon – two of the four attacking players available at his disposal – named on the bench had little sense to it.
Yes, the Magpies boss has to rotate his injury-hit squad at some point: Howe naming eight substitutes out of a possible nine shows how fragile this Newcastle team is depth-wise. But surely the game to rotate was not the Champions League group game where defeat leaves qualification out of your hands.
In rotating so heavily, Howe gave Lewis Hall and Tino Livramento their full Champions League debuts – and both Dortmund goals exploited this inexperience. Hall, booked after nine minutes, could only allow Marcel Sabitzer to drift by him and cross for Niclas Fullkrug’s opener.
And Livramento, who impressed going forwards, could not get close enough to Julian Brandt for the second on the break.
Bringing Almiron and Gordon on for the second half did improve Newcastle in Germany, but such improvement will leave the Magpies thinking ‘what if’. Howe’s attempts to conserve and rotate did not pay off this time.
The scale of the task that Newcastle were facing in Dortmund should not be underestimated. That crushing 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich suffered by Edin Terzic’s team was an anomaly. Dortmund are now unbeaten in their other 27 home games since August of last year.
Both managers made three changes to their teams from the weekend but that was where the similarities ended. Terzic was able to introduce Niklas Sule, Felix Nmecha and Karim Adeyemi – three of Dortmund’s most impressive performers on the night.
Livramento and Hall had only started in the Carabao Cup this season prior to being thrown in here. Livramento did well but it was tough for Hall. He was hooked at half-time. When Newcastle brought on Lewis Miley, Dortmund turned to Marco Reus.
If there is a question for Terzic and his team, it is whether a mental block now exists against their great Bundesliga rivals. This was the sort of front-foot display one expects of Dortmund inside their own stadium. They were meek by comparison against Bayern on Saturday.
Dortmund have lost nine of their last 10 against them now. It might not be decisive in a title race but progressing deep in the Champions League demands besting the best. Despite their fine record, and nights like this, Terzic’s Dortmund still need to show they can do that.
It was a night of misery for Celtic in Madrid as Atletico taught them a painful lesson after they had a player sent off for the third time in this season’s campaign.
The Champions League is unforgiving and, although Daizen Maeda’s red card was harsh, it appears to be the same mistakes on repeat for the Hoops.
Celtic have been unlucky at times but their failure to pick up more than one point is not simply down to that.
Is it simply the gulf in class or is some of it psychological?
Brendan Rodgers managed to win away in the Champions League during his first spell in charge, but losing Jota and Carl Starfelt just after his return to the club has not helped this season.
Only major investment in the squad will see the Scottish Champions pick up impressive wins, like that famous victory over Barcelona exactly 11 years ago.