Manchester City’s opponents are focusing on Erling Haaland to their detriment

It has become apparent that Manchester City’s opponents are focusing on stopping Erling Haaland to their detriment. While the form and general play of City’s number 9 has been the subject of criticism in some sections of the media, his influence on games is apparent on closer inspection.

Haaland has an integral role to play for the world champions. His influence on games can’t be measured by touches in games. The finishing this season from City’s number 9 has been well below his usual high standards. But despite this, his presence on the pitch is a valuable weapon for Pep Guardiola’s side.

With Haaland on the pitch, Manchester City’s opponents have to worry about curbing the influence of the Norwegian international. He often is double marked as team’s endeavour to keep City’s star striker from getting on the score sheet. Real Madrid employed this tactic last week at the Bernabeu during the 3-all draw between the two teams. While Antonio Rudiger and Aurélien Tchouamémi kept Haaland in check, his presence created space for his teammates to prosper. Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol prospered with two quality strikes playing in the space that Haaland’s presence provides.

READ MORE: The Etihad could be a crucial factor in Manchester City’s clash with Real Madrid.

Speaking in an exclusive interview on the Manchester City official YouTube channel Erling Haaland was asked if he felt City’s opponents were focusing more on stopping him as compared to last season. He said: “Yeah, definitely. It’s more focused, I can feel that, as you just saw here (a clip of Marc Cucurella dragging Erling Haaland to the floor) but again, focus more on me, it opens up opportunities for others so that’s also something we need to use.”

It’s in the space Haaland’s presence creates that his teammates can thrive. Players such as Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and more recently Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol have reaped the benefits with their intelligence and late runs to prosper in the space that Erling Haaland’s presence provides. While the media and pundits focus on Haaland’s apparent lack of influence on games, it is clear how impactful he is on the world champions.

If Real Madrid again focuses on stopping Haaland on Wednesday evening, it may again be his teammates that prosper at the Etihad. It is a team game, and Haaland has a role to play even if he isn’t on the scoresheet.

Tags Antonio Rudiger Aurélian Tchouamémi Bernardo Silva English Premier League Erling Haaland FA Cup Josko Gvardiol Julian Alvarez Kevin De Bruyne Luton Town Manchester City Mateo Kovacic Pep Guardiola Phil Foden Real Madrid UEFA Champions League