Pep Guardiola claims ‘not even Messi or Cristiano’ had Erling Haaland’s UCL goalscoring numbers at this age

The reigning champions, Manchester City are eager to resume their UEFA Champions League title defense in the upcoming last-16 fixture away against a resurgent Copenhagen in the first leg today. They are in dazzling form, with consecutive domestic wins and a 100% win record in the group stages of the competition.

Besides boasting impressive momentum, the English champions will have their golden boot holder, Erling Haaland, leading the attack following his return from a layoff due to injury struggles. Ahead of their European knockout tie, City manager Pep Guardiola offered sparkling praise for the striker, along with advice to boost his confidence.

Pep Guardiola praises Erling Haaland’s UCL goalscoring records

Erling Haaland’s debut season at the Etihad was remarkable, as he delivered a standout campaign by smashing a record-breaking 52 goals the previous season, lifting the League title, Champions League, and FA Cup to complete the treble. However, this season, he has been sidelined with injuries since early December.

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The 23-year-old is expected to start for the Citizens in the Danish capital for the Round of 16 clash. Ahead of the match, the Spanish boss showered praise on the striker’s mentality and highlighted how his figures so far surpass those of the competition’s two leading scorers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Guardiola said, “You see his numbers at his age. In the Champions League not even (Lionel) Messi or Cristiano (Ronaldo) had these numbers at his age.”

Last season, Haaland played a crucial role in guiding them to victory, finishing as their top-scorer in the competition. This term, he has amassed a stunning tally of 5 goals in 5 appearances, along with an assist. Overall, the forward has scored 40 European goals, since making his debut in 2019 with a hat-trick.

Pep Guardiola urges Erling Haaland to relax

The Norwegian international scored his first goal since November 25th in his third Premier League appearance against Everton, marking his second start in 2024, and netted a brace in the second half to clinch a 2-0 triumph on Saturday.

Erling Haaland experienced a frustrating initial 45 minutes, appearing upset about not finding the back of the net. The expectation he had set by failing to score in his previous four games made this frustration worse.

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Via-Esteemed Kompany

Pep Guardiola reacted to his performance, stating, “These two goals will help him a lot, to clear his mind. His body language in the first half was not good. The second half was much, much better. For him, when he scores a goal, his mood is different. After that, he makes more movements and everything.”

“He’s better. He has to learn that if he doesn’t score, he needs to maintain the right body language. He must keep a positive mood, telling himself, “OK, it will come, it will come,” he added, insisting on advising him to relax about not scoring goals.


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